Workplace Drug Testing
A C/TPA is a service agent that provides or coordinates one or more drug and alcohol testing services. This includes groups of employers who join together to administer the DOT drug and alcohol testing programs of its members. In other words, having a combined random testing pool.
This is what we do!
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has established procedures and oversight for workplace drug and alcohol programs. A DOT drug test conforms to these procedures. A non-DOT drug test doesn’t.
The DOT procedures apply to safety-sensitive employees in transportation industries. These Federal regulations are in . Transportation industries include aviation, trucking, pipeline, and mass transit. These procedures have standard processes for the specimen collection and laboratory testing. Also, the medical review of the lab result and the final determination of the drug test.
Both the terms 'screen' and 'test' are interchangeable when it comes to drug use detection. Generally, both terms refer to the process of detecting recent drug use by clinical or laboratory methodologies.
A screening refers to point-of-care or laboratory assay methodologies. Screening means to separate something (evidence of drug use) from something else (no evidence of drug use). Testing refers to the more advanced laboratory methods. For example, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) or liquid-chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). Screening is first conducted on a sample to rule out negatives. If the screening process detects a substance, a more advanced laboratory method confirms the findings.
The different sample types for drug testing include urine, blood, hair, nail, and oral fluid. Each has pros and cons from detection periods to the feasibility of 'cheating'.
The USDOT drug testing program requires a urine sample. Hair testing is becoming popular in the trucking industry. Both hair drug screening and oral fluid are being considered by the DOT. There’s a “NextGen” method for drug detection using breath. Although, it will be awhile before this is a scientific standard in the U.S.
The different sample types for workplace alcohol testing include saliva, breath, and blood. The USDOT accepts saliva and breath for alcohol screening. Saliva and breath are the most common because they are non-invasive and correlate directly with blood alcohol concentration levels.
A drug test 'panel' contains a combination of drug classes and cut-off levels. Panels identify drugs using point-of-care devices and laboratory instruments. For example, here are the drug classes for the USDOT five panel drug test:
- Marijuana (THC)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
The USDOT five panel was updated January 1st, 2018.
Drug screen panels make drug testing standardized, affordable, and allow fast turn-around-time. There isn’t a 'catch-all' drug test panel. In other words, there isn’t a drug test panel that detects every abused substance available in the world.
We always recommend common drug test panels to avoid choice overload.
Common reasons when to drug and alcohol test employees are pre-employment, random, and post-accident. There's also reasonable suspicion (aka for cause), return-to-duty, and follow-up. These are the USDOT reasons for drug testing employees. Non-DOT employers usually follow these. Other reasons include periodic, voluntary, probationary, pre-promotion and return-after-illness testing.
Always check your state laws for drug and alcohol testing restrictions.