Recent headlines have proclaimed a shortage of applicants in today’s job market. While the low unemployment rate is something to applaud, the smaller pool of job applicants has added stress to many staffing departments due to drug positivity.
Quest Diagnostics recently published a Drug Testing Index which includes analysis of industry-specific drug testing data. Their findings indicate a nearly double-digit rise of workforce drug positivity, with Retail Trade industries leading with the highest drug positivity rate.
- Retail Trade 5.3%
- Health Care and Social Assistance 4.7%
- Real Estate Rental and Leasing 4.6%
Eight industry sectors experienced year-over-year increases with at least 20% increases in marijuana positivity between 2015 and 2017:
- Transportation and Warehousing (33.3%)
- Other Services (except Public Administration) (33.3%)
- Construction (26.7%)
- Wholesale Trade (23.5%)
- Manufacturing (23.1%)
- Accommodation and Food Services (20.7%)
- Administrative Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services (19.0%)
- Retail Trade (18.5%)
“Our analysis suggests that employers can’t assume that workforce drug use isn’t an issue in their industry. In fact, drug test positivity in the majority of industry sectors analyzed is growing,” said Barry Sample, Ph.D., senior director, science and technology, Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions.
Employers are now beginning to question what this research means for their current drug testing policies. With all the uncertainty, many are choosing to go in one of three directions:
- Hold firm with current drug use policy
- Enact stricter no-tolerance testing
- Create more focused drug screening panels
Holding firm with current drug testing policies can be a good course for many companies. However, laws have changed in many states, so it is essential to have periodic legal reviews and a strong third-party administrator managing your program. Third party drug screening administrators who are members of national drug testing associations such as DATIA, SAPAA, and NDASA are excellent choices. Accreditation for managing drug testing programs by one of these associations are even better.
Enacting stricter “no tolerance testing” can likewise be effective. At ESS, we have assisted clients in taking a number of actions including implementing more stringent cutoff levels and or adding drugs like Fentanyl, Hydrocode, Oxycodone, or Synthetic Marijuana to their drug testing protocols. Taking a stricter approach may eliminate more candidate, but the long-term value is obvious when it comes to creating safe and productive work environments.
A third option is to create a focused special drug screening panel, which many employers use to combat changing marijuana laws and the growing opioid crisis. In this case, the focus shifts from testing for THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, to the large opioid category which includes hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. The businesses who opt for this route are generally those not heavily regulated by the government and perform work that is not safety-sensitive.
What’s the best course?
There are no simple answers when it comes to drug testing because every industry, in fact, every company, has different needs and risk profiles. At ESS we have a 25-year history of helping clients craft and manage effective drug and background screening solutions. Listening to and understanding your needs is what we do best. To have one of our experts assist with your drug testing solution, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.