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New Technology and New Initiatives in U.S. Workplace Testing

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International Volume: 174 Issue: 2-3 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 120-124
J. Michael Walsh
Date Published
January 2008
5 pages
This current review of U.S. workplace drug testing addresses epidemiology, new technology, and efforts to assist small businesses.
Currently, most U.S. employers use drug testing as the foundation for a comprehensive approach to preventing and remedying employee drug abuse as a threat to workplace safety and productivity. Typical corporation employee substance abuse programs consist of a written and communicated policy regarding drug use, training for supervisors, employee education, employee assistance resources, and drug testing. For the testing component, there is a continuum of policy options that include pre-employment testing, reasonable cause/suspicion testing, accident or incident-driven testing, and random testing of all personnel. As the demand for drug testing has increased among employers, more research has been conducted in order to develop better testing technologies. New rapid point-of-collection urine and saliva devices are currently available for workplace testing; however, reliable data on the effectiveness of various drug-testing technologies is still limited. Despite Federal regulation of drug testing, inconsistent data from national prevalence studies and national laboratory analyses demonstrate that some challenges remain in improving overall effectiveness in identifying employees who use illegal drugs. In addition, specimen substitution and adulteration continue to be major problems. Unlike large companies with pre-employment testing, small businesses do not have testing programs. In an effort to address the vulnerability of small businesses to users of illegal drugs, the U.S. Small Business Administration has provided grant funding to intermediaries for assistance to small businesses in the development of workplace drug programs. Assistance includes the development of model policies, creating consortia for testing services, and establishing Employee Assistance Programs that reduce the costs of employee drug abuse. 4 figures and 18 references