February, 6 2023

OSHA Regulated Drug Testing

By Admin


In their commitment to promoting safe work environments, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set regulations governing workplace substance abuse and drug testing. These rules cover both public and private employers across the nation.

According to an American Addiction Centers, Inc. survey, 22.5% of the respondents admitted to substance use (alcohol or drugs) during work hours. Besides increasing the risk of accidents and loss of lives, studies have attributed drug use to loss of profits in companies amounting to $81 billion yearly. The losses are due to various factors such as absenteeism, reduced productivity, high turnover rates, theft, etc.

Implementing minimum OSHA drug testing requirements is an excellent step toward curbing workplace substance use and enhancing the safety of all employees. DTC Medical Supplies, Inc. promotes drug-free work environments by supplying the necessary drug testing kits to service providers and employers reliably and affordably.

We provide a range of testing supplies. From lab-based to rapid tests, you can count on us for all your testing needs. Whether you want to launch an onsite drug test program, customize a drug test panel to your specific requirements, or whatever your unique needs are, reach out to us, and we will be glad to partner with you.

OSHA Regulations on Substance Abuse and Drug Testing

Pursuant to their mandate (ensuring safe and healthy workplaces), OSHA requires certain employers (refer to the next section for more details) to conduct drug testing on their workers. They also lay out guidelines on when it is permissible for employers to conduct the tests, such as;

  • Random testing – In promoting a drug-free work environment, employers may perform regular random testing on the employees
  • Reasonable cause/suspicion testing – If the employer has a reasonable suspicion an employee is intoxicated during working hours, they may require them to undergo a drug test
  • Pre-employment testing – After a job offer, the employer may require an employee to submit to a drug test before they start working
  • Post-accident testing – If an employee causes an accident (that results in injuries or would have caused injuries), the employer may demand a drug test to determine whether intoxication could have impaired them, etc.

In specific reference to post-accident testing, OSHA regulations protect employees from employer retaliation for reporting accidents. In other words, the rule regulates employer action regarding post-accident drug testing policies and workplace safety incentive programs, ensuring they do not victimize employees for reporting accidents.

While OSHA recognizes employer post-accident testing policies and workplace safety incentive programs are meant to promote safe work environments, they expect employers to enforce the rules consistently and not as a punishment to employees who report work-related injuries. In the same way, if the employer rewards workers or managers for injury-free work durations, they should roll out the program in a way that does not discourage reporting injuries or illness.

Drug Testing Regulations Across Various Industries

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), most private employers are not legally required to have a drug-free workplace policy. Instead, the policies mainly apply to federal contractors, grantees, safety and security-sensitive industries, and a few other employers.

The primary statute governing the creation of drug-free workplace policies is the 1988 Drug-free Workplace Act. However, employers must implement the rules in consideration of other relevant laws protecting workers' rights, such as;

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – Prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from discriminating against workers with physical disabilities. For instance, they should not single out employees for drug testing if they have symptoms such as slurred speech or lack of coordination since these could be due to their disability and not necessarily intoxication.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from discriminating against them based on religion, sex, race, or nationality. While conducting drug testing, they must treat all workers equally and not single them out based on their sexual, racial, or ethnic orientation.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1963 – Requires employers with more than 50 employees to allow workers who have worked for them for at least 1250 hours in the past 12 months to take job-protected, unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks to deal with their substance addiction
  • The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 – Requires employers with unionized workers to discuss any drug testing program with the union through the formal collective bargaining process.

Owing to these strict regulations, employers implementing drug-free workplace policies must be cautious not to infringe on their employees' rights. Generally, it is recommended to consult an employment attorney for guidance on all the relevant regulations to remain compliant.

According to SAMHSA, you can avoid legal pitfalls while implementing a drug-free workplace policy by adopting the following best practices.

  • Establish a drug-free awareness program
  • Document the policy
  • Train supervisors on substance and alcohol use detection
  • Document employee performance
  • Be consistent when handling substance use issues
  • Set clear penalties
  • Refrain from making quick judgments
  • Protect employee privacy when handling drug violation issues

Industries with Drug Testing Regulations

The employers required to adhere to strict drug testing guidelines are mainly federal contractors, grantees, and safety and security-sensitive industries. Below are the specific regulations they must observe:

Federal contractors and grantees (Any organization receiving a federal contract of $100,000 and above or a federal grant of any size)

  • Document a drug-free workplace policy and distribute it to employees
  • Establish a drug-free awareness program
  • Educate employees on federal contracts about their reporting obligations
  • Notify the federal contracting agency of violations within ten days of conviction
  • Take action against employees convicted of drug violation
  • Comply with all the terms of the Drug-Free Workplace Act

Safety- and security-sensitive industries are subject to drug-testing regulations from:

  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Safety-sensitive industries (Department of Transportation regulations)

  • Test employees during pre-employment, when there is a reasonable cause, and post-accident
  • Have a random testing program
  • Conduct tests in a certified laboratory
  • Perform a five-panel test (marijuana metabolites, cocaine metabolites, opioid metabolites, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP)).
  • Adhere to DOT alcohol testing policies when testing for alcohol
  • Have a qualified medical review officer review all the tests
  • Conduct drug and alcohol awareness training for all employees
  • Train supervisors on substance use detection
  • Refer employees with a substance use problem to a trained professional for evaluation and treatment

Security-sensitive industries (Department of Defense regulations)

  • Have a comprehensive employee assistance plan (EAP)
  • Train supervisors on substance use detection
  • Implement a monitored employee drug testing policy

Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations

  • Test for drug and alcohol use to detect and deter substance abuse
  • Observe behavior to detect possible drug use or possession
  • Create policies to implement program requirements
  • Implement employee assistance programs (EAP) for confidential assessment, counseling, and treatment

While government agencies and the transportation industry are the most affected by drug testing and policy requirements, other industries also require drug testing, such as construction, manufacturing, healthcare, etc.

According to American Addiction Centers, Inc., drug screening requirements vary from state to state and industry to industry. For instance, nationally, the leading cities with the most jobs requiring regular drug tests include;

  • Washington D.C.
  • Oakland, CA
  • Dallas, TX
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Long Beach, CA

Similarly, below are the leading industries in pre-employment and regular drug testing requirements;

Industries requiring pre-employment drug testing

  • Government
  • Health care & Hospitals
  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Transportation & Logistics
  • Private security
  • Aerospace & Defense
  • Construction
  • Information Technology

Industries requiring regular testing

  • Health care & Hospitals
  • Transportation & Logistics
  • Government
  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • Information Technology

Rapid Tests and Onsite Programs Helps Ease the Regulations

Implementing the drug testing regulations can sometimes be challenging for employers. For instance, if you were to ferry employees to a testing center every time you want to conduct random testing or to perform a post-incident screening on all the workers who might have contributed to an accident, it would mean interrupting the operations. Over time, these interruptions can significantly affect productivity.

To avoid this, employers can opt for rapid tests and onsite programs. With instant tests, you can quickly and easily rule out the possibility of drug use among most workers and only conduct further tests on those with non-negative results. This way, you can minimize interruptions as much as possible while ensuring you continue guaranteeing a drug-free workplace.

Similarly, having the tests done onsite can significantly reduce the time wasted on screenings, avoid affecting productivity, and save on costs.

Let Us Help You Foster a Drug-Free Workplace Without Compromising Productivity

If you are an employer covered by OSHA drug testing regulations, we understand how hectic remaining compliant can get. Nonetheless, you must maintain a drug-free workplace for your employees' safety and ultimately safeguard your profitability.

At DTC Medical Supplies, Inc., we have a range of rapid tests that you can use to ease the financial burden of regular screenings and the time spent on the activity. From urine dip cards to integrated urine cups and instant saliva drug tests, you can choose your preferred option based on your budget.

Our rapid tests have a 99% accuracy, making them ideal for quick and mass testing. Besides, you can arrange an onsite testing program for the employees with non-negative results and eliminate adverse work interruptions altogether.

Should you like us to partner with you, kindly let us know.