ScreenDiscussion

Blogging background checking and security issues

1.27.2005

The State of Drug Testing

Drug testing is messy business, and I’m not just talking about spilling the specimen collection cup. While most of the services performed by companies in the employment screening industry only require the client to submit an individual’s information to the employment screening company, a drug test usually requires the individual to take a form with him to the collection location. This presents a few problems. First, the individual has the primary responsibility for getting the service done. If he or she is applying for a job then there is a good source of motivation, and if the test isn’t taken within a given amount of time then the person can be removed from consideration. However, if it’s a random drug test or a post-accident drug test it can get a little messier. There is always the threat of losing the job, but unless the individual is a horrible employee this is the last thing the employer wants to do. If the person is fired for not complying with the company’s drug testing policy just because he or she is a procrastinator, then the company has to recruit, hire and train a new employee and do all of the paperwork that accompanies this process. It’s not cheap and takes some time. Sure, there are other kinds of background checks that the applicant can occasionally delay, but in my experience drug testing has by far the most applicant/employee caused delays.

So what can be done about it? Are there any solutions on the horizon? There are the self-test options, but most employers prefer to do drug testing using a recognized, professional lab. Another option is to do on-site drug testing, but unless you’re at a large location and need to test a lot of people at once, the cost per test can be very expensive. If you don’t fit into this category, and not many companies do, then you’re stuck with a high level of applicant/employee dependency. Why don’t the big players in the industry tackle this one? If either Quest or Labcorp, who have a network of specimen collection and testing locations all over the country, were to find a solution wouldn’t they leave their competition far behind?

Because of the costs involved I don’t see a way around having to send individuals to a collection location, but what about eliminating the form? This would at least make random and post-accident testing much easier because the employee could go straight to the clinic without having to first swing by the office to pick up a form. Additionally, prospective employees from out-of-state would be able to test right away without having to first wait for a form to be shipped in the mail. If a company has an account set up with Quest or Labcorp, why can’t they send people to take tests without a form? The collection locations could be outfitted with a means to produce documentation of the test, and the individual could simply provide a one-time-use code given to him or her by the company to confirm that he or she is authorized to take a drug test.

Employment-related drug testing is in increasing demand as employers become more safety and security conscious. There is a lot of room for process improvement in this industry, which means there is also potential for significant profit for the company that can make serious advancements.

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