Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jun 15, 2017

Positive drug tests on the rise

Drug and Alcohol 

In a report released May 16, 2017, Quest Diagnostics revealed that American workplace drug testing has reached its highest positivity rate in 12 years. After analyzing more than ten million drug test results in 2016, Quest found that workers tested positive in 4.2 percent of all urine tests—a 5 percent jump from 2015 numbers. Notably, positive marijuana results are dramatically higher in general workforce saliva tests (up 75 percent from 2013), as well as federally mandated urine tests for certain safety-sensitive positions (up 10 percent since 2015). In Colorado and Washington, the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the urine positivity rates increased by 11 and 9 percent, respectively, outstripping the general national increase of 4 percent.
Also on the rise are cocaine and methamphetamine numbers. According to Quest’s report, the positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment drug tests and was also higher than the rate in random drug tests. On a happier note, the report found a plateau in heroin positivity and a decline in prescription opiate detection, which could be the result of recent aggressive regulation of opiate prescriptions.
Tips: As recreational pot shops keep materializing, employers (especially manufacturers) are facing the dual challenge of finding qualified workers and keeping them sober. Although tempting, there are many reasons not to modify your testing regime, including the need to maintain a safe workplace, comply with strict federal contract requirements, and avoid being labeled the “pot tolerant” employer that attracts all the local drug users. Instead, train (or refresh) your supervisors on how to spot and confront potentially impaired employees. Contact your Vigilant employment attorney for information on our “Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors” training or call your testing provider to find out what training courses it offers. For a list of other steps you can take now, check out Vigilant’s article, “Marijuana testing a must for many manufacturers,” published May 25, 2017, in the Spokane Business Journal.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.