The Ins & Outs of the Randomized Drug Testing Process
At ARCpoint Labs of Marysville - Arlington, we understand the value of random drug and alcohol testing as a deterrent in workplace settings. A common misconception of random drug tests is that they are administered to pre-selected individuals at surprise moments in time. In practice, however, a random drug test is randomly administered without prior notice via the process of random selection.
Most companies will hire a third-party administrator (TPA) to implement a scientifically valid method for selecting individuals/employees for random testing. Each potential subject must have an equal chance of being selected. There are numerous computer software systems, such as a random-number table or random number generator, to accomplish this step. Old-fashioned methods, such as drawing straws or pulling names from a hat, can be perceived as unprofessional: It is too easy to tinker with the results.
Whatever method you choose, your randomized selection process must ensure everyone has an equal chance of being selected. It is your fiduciary responsibility to uphold this principle with transparency and fairness.
Timeliness & Testing Method are Key to Random Drug Testing
It is critical for random drug tests to take place instantaneously after the surprise announcement – whether this involves sending the randomly chosen employee directly to a drug testing collection site or relying on a mobile drug test collector.
There are many collection methods for a randomized drug test. We can test:
- Urine samples
- Hair samples
- Blood samples
- Nail samples
- And much more!
Each testing method offers pros and cons – detecting a limited category of drugs for specific durations of time. Reach out to ARCpoint Labs of Marysville - Arlington for more information about our drug and alcohol testing options today!
Common Randomized Testing Situations
There are many situations, institutions, and systems that rely on random drug testing programs, such as:
- DOT drug testing regulations
- Drug-free companies
- Child custody cases
- Court-ordered random drug testing
- Child Protective Services (CPS) cases
- Probation and parole random drug testing procedures
- Professional license violations (airline pilots, medical licensing, Coast Guard captains)
Recently, schools across the United States have begun to require random drug testing for extracurricular activities. The U.S. Supreme Court permitted random drug testing for students participating in cheerleading, athletics, glee club, and other school-sponsored pursuits in 2002.
Court-Mandated Drug Testing
Federal law requires all safety-sensitive professional positions within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to be subject to random drug & alcohol testing protocols multiple times a year.
Agencies that must adhere to this mandate include:
- The Federal Transit Administration [FTA]
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA]
- The Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration [PHMSA]
- The United States Coast Guard [USCG]
- The Federal Aviation Administration [FAA]
- The Federal Railroad Administration [FRA]
- Maintenance of Way Employees
- Covered Service Employees
To remain DOT compliant, these agencies must implement randomized testing procedures (typically monthly or quarterly) at regular intervals during a calendar year.
The Many Merits of Implementing Random Testing
Many non-DOT jobs are equally dangerous to perform – even when an employee is sober and unimpaired. Some hazardous professional positions include operating a vehicle, handling heavy machinery, working in toxic environments, fixing electrical systems, and much more. Such tasks require alertness and clarity of mind.
Unfortunately, pre-employment drug tests do not detect substance abuse for a significant length of time. Furthermore, many products can help prospective employees circumvent detection. Your best bet to ensure employee safety, morale, and wellbeing is to implement mandatory random drug testing policies. This measure will help prevent your employees from working under the influence – mitigating potential accidents, hazards, sick days, and productivity issues.
Don’t Overlook the Benefits of “Reasonable Suspicion” Tests
For many companies, the fear of random testing is not efficient enough to combat drug abuse by itself. Another solution is to implement reasonable suspicion drug tests when necessary. Your managers and supervisors must complete a vetted reasonable suspicion training before making any regulatory decisions or determinations. This training will teach your team to screen, recognize, and document telltale signs of drug or alcohol abuse.
Not knowing the difference between random and reasonable suspicion testing protocols could leave your company liable and in legal trouble. Reasonable suspicion results from firsthand observations of behavioral, physical, or psychological symptoms/conditions that suggest an employee is under the influence of illegal substances. Such suspicions must be documented immediately and in accordance with strict procedural methods.
Examples of reasonable suspicion include:
- Bloodshot eyes/dilated pupils, slurred speech, or shakes/tremors
- Attendance issues, including tardiness or rampant absenteeism
- Fidgeting or manic/uncontrolled motor activity
- Unexplained mood swings, paranoia, or personality shifts
- Inability to focus, think, communicate, or concentrate
- A decline in performance/productivity
- The inability to stay conscious or awake
- Alarming body/breath odor or rapid deterioration in appearance
- Unsteady or uncoordinated movements
- Unexplained shivering
- Acting withdrawn, secretive, or hostile to others
Education & Preparedness Are Integral to Effective Drug Testing
We always recommend supplanting any employee or personal drug testing policy with ongoing educational efforts about the damaging effects of illegal drug and alcohol abuse on work performance, health, and safety. Providing detailed information about drug and alcohol-free workplace programs will maximize employee wellbeing.
Your educational plan should also list and detail your company-specific policies to provide your company with sufficient liability. Every hired employee should sign off and legally agree to the possibility of being subjected to random and reasonable drug testing before any course of action is implemented. It is also necessary to always keep this information accessible to your employees through a variety of delivery methods.
Call (360) 873-5586 to see what random and reasonable drug testing services we can perform for you today!