GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – The passage of Amendment 64 has left many employers in Colorado wondering where they stand with drug testing employees.
To help businesses understand the legalities, Mountain State Employers Council has developed a guideline for employers to help them develop policies about Amendment 64, something local Chamber of Commerce leaders say will be helpful for employers.
“We have a lot of employers who have a lot of questions about this because it’s not as clear cut as it with being under the influence of alcohol,” said Diane Schwenke, executive director of the chamber. “We know that if we were to have a certain level in your bloodstream of alcohol, you’re under the influence. We don’t have that same matrix to use with marijuana.”
Here are the MSEC’s four points to remember:
- An employer, whose supervisors are trained in reasonable suspicion of drug use and who require an employee to undergo a urinalysis, saliva or blood test after documenting signs and symptoms of drug use, will have a stronger chance of surviving a legal challenge if the employer terminates that employee. (This assumes that the worker tests positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol [THC], the active ingredient in marijuana).
- Colorado’s legal off-duty activities law (CLODA) prohibits employers from terminating employees for legal, off-duty conduct. Exceptions, however, are provided in law.
- If a worker is in a safety-sensitive occupation, employers may have a stronger legal basis to terminate employees who test positive for marijuana. A worker who is impaired through the use of marijuana in these occupations creates risk for the employer and other workers, which can fall under CLODA’s exceptions.
- CLODA refers only to employees, not to job applicants. Thus, pre-employment drug screening remains a lawful practice and may continue to be conducted by employers.
If you have any additional questions regarding drug testing employees, whether in Colorado or another state, contact us for assistance. We’ll be happy to help!
A controversial bill in Texas that proposes drug screening for welfare recipients would only be fair if applied to all who receive taxpayer dollars – including elected officials, said Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont).
The bill, filed last month by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), would authorize the use of drug screening for recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and unemployment benefits, according to information on the governor’s website. Deshotel said he was disappointed that state leaders such as Perry, Nelson and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst were singling out poor families in supporting the bill.
“There is no evidence that poor people abuse drugs more frequently than any other socioeconomic group, therefore I challenge Senator Nelson, Governor Perry and Lt. Governor Dewhurst to support adding a drug test requirement to the application to run for state office in Texas,” he said in a news release.
Welfare drug testing
Welfare drug screening legislation would be a welcome addition for many, who are justified in claiming that anyone receiving welfare should not be an exception to the drug screening rules that many employed taxpayers are subjected to.
Nonetheless, there will also always be critics, particularly when it comes to such a controversial topic. Some critics suggest that drug testing welfare recipients is simply not a cost-effective measure and not a valid use of taxpayers dollars – with money saved being only a fraction of that which is spent on the tests. In addition, the ACLU argues drug testing is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches.
Highly addictive painkillers have become a serious problem for injured employees seeking to file workers’ compensation claims, according to a new report from the Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).
Researchers found that almost one in 12 injured workers who begin using opioids were still using the prescription drugs three to six months later. The report, authored by Dongchun Wang, Dean Hashimoto and Kathryn Mueller, states:
“Opioids have been widely prescribed for and filled by injured workers — about 55 –85 percent of injured workers received narcotics, despite medical recommendations to avoid routine prescription and to limit the use of opioids to more severe pain or pain which is unresponsive to other analgesics. The growing public concerns regarding overuse and abuse, which often result in emergency room visits and even overdose deaths, are shared by the workers’ compensation health care community. These concerns are increasingly important public policy issues, given the limited evidence of the effectiveness of opioids in treating chronic noncancer pain.”
Insurers pay out approximately $1.4 billion annually for narcotic painkillers, while the typical cost of a workers’ compensation claim is $13,000, including medical expenses and lost wage payments. However, the average cost increases to $117,000 when the prescription is for a long-term narcotic like OxyContin. That’s nine times (or over $100,000) more than the average cost of a workers’ compensation claim where opioids are not involved.
The study was based on nearly 300,000 workers’ compensation claims and 1.1 million prescriptions associated with those claims from 21 states. The claims represent injuries arising from October 1, 2006, to September 30, 2009, with prescriptions filled up to March 31, 2011. The underlying data reflect an average of 24 months’ experience.
Drug screening in the workplace
As an employer, these are reports and issues that you need to be aware of. The United States Department of Labor estimated in 2005 that of the 17.2 million drug abusers in the US, 12.9 million were employed either full or part time. In addition, 10 to 20% of workers who died on the job tested positive for alcohol or other drugs.
Staying on top of such news and implementing drug testing among employees will go a long way to ensuring you maintain a safe and productive work environment. For more information on how to get started with a drug screening policy, contact us today!
State officials in Tennessee are eyeing drug-testing programs for welfare recipients in six other states as they work on a similar effort in their own state, according to The Tennessean.
Legislation approved this year mandates the drug-testing program and gives the Department of Human Services until January 2014 to finalize a plan. Over the next two years, the department must submit quarterly progress reports to two General Assembly committees.
“The Department hopes to gain insight on how other states have implemented their policy as well as any obstacles that they have faced along the way,” Department of Human Services Commissioner Raquel Hatter wrote in a four-page letter that serves as the first progress report.
Welfare drug testing has been a hot topic of debate for a while now, and the new state law in Tennessee requires suspicion-based drug testing for anyone seeking aid through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the federal welfare program administered by states. Tennessee officials researched similar efforts in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah.
In all six states, failing a drug test would make a resident ineligible for benefits for a defined period of time, ranging from one month to three years. Although most of the states have provisions that would reduce the amount of time if the person enters a drug rehabilitation program.
Any sort of drug screening legislation will no doubt be a welcome addition for many, who are justified in claiming that welfare recipients should not be an exception to the drug screening rules that many employed taxpayers are subjected to.
Nonetheless, there will always be critics, particularly when it comes to such a controversial topic. Critics claim that drug testing welfare recipients is simply not a cost-effective measure and not a valid use of taxpayers dollars – with money saved being only a fraction of that which is spent on the tests.
What’s your opinion on drug testing for welfare recipients? Are you for or against it?
The conductors, mechanics and engineers who operate Amtrak’s trains have been testing positive for drugs and alcohol more and more frequently over the last six years, a government watchdog said last week. And Amtrak’s management isn’t doing enough to stop it.
Drug and alcohol use by Amtrak operating employees in safety-sensitive positions far exceeds the national average for the railroad industry, Amtrak’s inspector general said in a report warning of serious safety risks.
Amtrak’s mechanics and signal operators had the highest rate in 2011, testing positive for drugs four times as often as those working for other railroads. Although Amtrak also tests for alcohol, the larger problem in recent years has been with drugs — specifically cocaine and marijuana.
Seventeen workers in 2011 failed alcohol or drug tests intended to root out employees who are high or drunk on the job. But federal guidelines only require that Amtrak randomly test one-quarter of operations employees every year. Just one in 10 must be tested for alcohol.
Amtrak Inspector General Ted Alves, in his report, said Amtrak has failed to control drug and alcohol use by the more than 4,400 workers involved in operating trains. Amtrak’s management has been unaware of the extent of the problem and hasn’t addressed persistent concerns about its program to physically observe workers for signs they may be under the influence.
“These conditions increase the risk that a serious accident will occur that involves drugs or alcohol,” Alves said in his report.
Amtrak said it agreed with the watchdog’s recommendations, including that Amtrak should test a higher portion of its workers and expand its program for physical observation. The railroad plans to spend $1.5 million this year on its drug and alcohol program, and will boost its random drug test rate from 33 percent to 50 percent.
“Amtrak runs a safe railroad today,” said Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm. “We are committed to making further safety improvements for passengers and employees.”
Under Amtrak policy, a single failed drug or alcohol test doesn’t automatically lead to dismissal. Employees may be given an opportunity to seek treatment through Amtrak. But if workers fail a second test within a 10-year period, they must be removed from service. That’s happened to six workers since 2006, the inspector general’s office said. Four resigned, one retired and one was terminated.
Railroads have been required to control drug and alcohol use by employees since a 1987 train accident in Chase, Md., that killed 16 people and injured 147. The engineer for a now-defunct railroad had sped through three signals, causing his train to collide with an Amtrak train. An investigation found that the engineer had been under the influence of marijuana.
The University of Oregon is implementing random drug testing of all its athletes, following a media report earlier this year that estimated from 40 to 60 percent of the football team smoked marijuana.
Oregon’s previous drug policy allowed for drug testing when there was reasonable suspicion. A recent decision by the general counsel gives temporary permission for random testing effective this month. The policy still faces a public hearing in early October.
ESPN The Magazine’s April report was based on interviews with 19 current or former Oregon players and officials, and it accompanied a larger piece that looked at marijuana use among college football players nationwide.
In July, Oregon’s athletic department proposed the changes to strengthen its drug policy. Under it, student-athletes will be subject to random tests year-round, even in the summer. A number system will identify athletes for testing.
The random tests have not begun, according to university officials and Oregon has not changed its penalties for positive tests.
For illicit drugs, athletes receive counseling and education after a first positive test. A second results in a ”behavior modification contract” between the student and the coach. Athletes are ineligible for half of a season following a third failed test, and will be dismissed from the team and lose their scholarship for the fourth.
For performance-enhancing drugs like steroids, athletes face suspension after the first positive test and dismissal after the second.
Do you believe all college athletes should be drug tested? Should they be held to the same standard as professionals?
As part of any drug testing policy, there are a variety of drug testing procedures involved in a pre-employment screening program: a company’s procedure for employee testing, state and federal procedures for legality of testing, and the different types of procedure involved in drug testing, to name just a few.
For this blog post, we are going to focus on the latter – the different types of procedures that might be used in drug testing. There are three types of procedures for drug testing, and they are as follows:
1) Urine Testing
Urine tests are the most common method of drug testing, and the most affordable. They are administered by obtaining a urine sample from the subject, and considered an intrusive method of testing – meaning that the samples could potentially be contaminated or the results can be affected by the testing process.
Urine tests are generally effective in detecting evidence of drug use during the week prior to testing, meaning that they are susceptible to the effects of a subject abstaining from drug use in an attempt to control the results.
2) Blood Testing
Blood tests are the least common method of drug tests, usually because they are the most expensive for businesses. However, blood tests are heralded as the most accurate form of a drug test.
Usually administered by obtaining a blood sample from the subject and assessing the samples to detect evidence of drug use, blood tests are also considered an intrusive method of drug testing and can detect recent drug use.
3) Hair Follicle Testing
Hair follicle testing is middle-ground in terms of expense, and can usually detect drug use in a longer time frame than the other two methods – approximately 90 days. Hair follicle tests are administered by obtaining several strands of hair, and are considered unobtrusive methods of treatment because it is difficult to alter any traces of drugs present in the hair strands.
While those are the three primary types of drug testing procedure, we’re only really touching the surface of these methods. If you have any further questions, or would like to find out how to implementing any of these procedures at your business, get in touch with us here.
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has finally given up fighting the doping claims aimed at him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. After years of allegations, he has walked away from the doping case the USADA brought against him, calling it an “unconstitutional witch hunt” and declining to fight it in arbitration.
“If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and — once and for all — put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance,” Armstrong said in a lengthy prepared statement Thursday evening. “But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.”
USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart reacted to reports of Armstrong’s decision not to enter arbitration, stating:
“It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes. This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition, but for clean athletes, it is a reassuring reminder that there is hope for future generations to compete on a level playing field without the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”
Armstrong will now face a lifetime ban and the stripping of his tour titles, according to the USADA. However, he argued that he never failed a drug test and that the USADA should not have the right to strip him of his titles.
Considering he was one of the most tested athletes in history, how did he cheat if he never failed a test?
A former teammate, Jonathan Vaughters, confessed his own doping on the New York Times opinion pages just two weeks ago, writing, “When I was racing in the 1990s and early 2000s, the rules were easily circumvented by any and all.” This suggests drug tests were easy to pass, and the screening process was weak.
Through it all, Armstrong vigorously denied any and all hints, rumours and direct accusations he was cheating. It seems that the public will never know the truth behind the scandal. For now, we can take gratification that sporting authorities are working incredibly hard to implement thorough drug screening programs, and doing their best to keep cheating athletes out of the industry.
Ensuring you have a safe, productive and efficient work environment is an integral part of a strong foundation for business success. This includes aspects such as management techniques, team morale and hiring strategy.
For this post, we are going to focus on the latter – hiring strategy – and more specifically, drug testing. A drug testing policy is vital for any business, to help ensure that those you hire are safe and sober, and that your employees remain that way once hired.
Implementing a drug testing policy can be tough, so here are MYB’s five steps to creating a successful policy for drug testing your employees:
1) Examine your needs
Before investing in a drug testing program for your workplace, first identify the drug abuse risk in your organization. Have you noticed a decrease in productivity,-an increase in absenteeism, or accidents by your employees? Are your insurance and workers claims costs soaring?
Consider the specific areas it is that you want to improve with a drug testing policy, and that’s your starting point.
2) Understand the law
Some state and federal laws can make setting up an employee drug testing program difficult, so make sure you know your stuff. If necessary, get your legal team involved and ensure you’re not putting your company at risk.
3) Get help
No one knows more about drug screening policies and programs than a pre-employment screening company, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. They will be able to help you create a thorough, effective and affordable testing policy for your company, leaving you free to focus on sustaining and increasing business.
With the above done, it’s time to create the actual process. Again, this is where an employment screening company is going to help. The process needs to involve getting employee consent, written policy, legal issues and HR processes.
If you’re a beginner, this is what’s really going to help you get to know what a drug screening program is all about.
So now we’re down to the specifics. What type of test are you going to perform? What’s the company and legal process if a test result is positive? Or negative? How are you notifying current employees about the drug screening program? How are you integrating it into your current hiring strategy? Once again, a professional screening company can really take the load off with this stage of the policy and implementation.
Ready to get started?
So those are our five tips, and we hope this helps you to understand what a drug screening policy is all about. If you’re ready to get started, or you have more questions about drug screening, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be happy to help!
Drug testing for jobs is a commonplace occurrence in this day and age, with many employers implementing drug testing as a key part of their employment screening policy. Drug testing prior to an employee starting an employment contract reassures company management that their workforce is sober, and will be a productive and effective team.
But employers might be asking, why drug test employees? Why not follow your gut instinct, or rely on the interview to cast judgement?
Well, in truth, that’s your call to make as an employer. But is it worth the risk if you get it wrong?
Here are some drug screening facts to consider when making your decision:
- The average costs of a bad hire may equal 30% of the first year’s potential earnings.
- According to statistics on drug abuse by American workers, workplace drug and alcohol use costs U.S. businesses an estimated $100 billion each year.
- The United States Department of Labor estimated that of the 17.2 million drug abusers in the US, 12.9 million are employed either full or part time.
- Statistics show drug and alcohol abusers to be ten times more likely of taking time off work.
How to get started with employment drug testing
If you’re considering implementing drug testing for jobs you are hiring for, the ideal next step would be to get in touch with an employment screening service, who can identify your needs and help create a program to suit you.
Any concerns or questions you have, from costs to types of testing, can be answered, and an employment screening service will be able to judge how a drug screening program can help your business progress.
Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us today and we can help you get started.
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