Document Number 040
During the Pandemic, the United States has seen a sharp rise in the positive drug test rate for U.S. workers, with historically high rates reported in 2020. Drug testing laboratories are experiencing record backlogs due to Pandemic-related labor shortages.
Why is this happening? Besides pandemic pressures, a wave of legalization for recreational and medicinal marijuana has swept across the States, which has led to increased use across all ages — particularly college-aged adults, who are tomorrow’s workforce.
Drug testing employees and applicants can help to prevent and detect workplace drug abuse and its adverse consequences. Employers who implement a drug-free workplace program report reduced employee healthcare costs, improved employee productivity, decreased absenteeism, and improved workplace safety for all employees. Unexpected, random drug testing reduces the use of high-risk medications such as opioids, which reduces abuse and long-term addiction.
Rolling out an effective drug-free workplace program is complex, but using a certified, experienced TPA can make this process easier. Contracting directly with a laboratory means you have to manage the entire testing process end-to-end. Labs will only perform analysis and sometimes sample collections, but will handle none of the other responsibilities required for compliance. Federal regulations define and recommend using a Third-Party Administrator to help implement and manage your Drug-free Workplace Program, due to the regulatory complexity.
Here are some questions to ask when searching for a Drug-Free Workplace TPA Partner:
Are they experienced?
The federal and state regulatory environment is administratively complex and ever changing. Experience in the industry is key to avoiding noncompliance and reducing liability.
Are they active members in a national industry association?
Here are some national associations to look for:
Are they up-to-date with Training and Certifications?
Your TPA should provide you with their current industry certifications upon request.
Do they offer live phone support and 24/7 availability?
With a round-the-clock workforce, you need 24/7 coverage from your TPA partner.
Do they offer a turn-key customized program for a drug-free workplace?
Do they offer DOT and Non-DOT testing via SAMHSA-certified laboratories?
For employees governed by the Department of Transportation’s regulations, all samples must be tested in a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certified laboratory. These labs are required to uphold rigorous standards to maintain certification and must submit to annual inspections. Results from a SAMHSA-certified laboratory offer the highest accuracy. For any non-regulated employees, a reliable TPA should mirror DOT requirements as closely as possible.
Do they have a nationwide network of collection site locations and do they offer mobile on-site collections?
Your TPA can help you decide if you want to direct employees to a collection site or coordinate onsite drug and alcohol specimen collections at your facilities, saving your company time away from being on the job.
Will they help you build, maintain, and update your drug testing policy and procedures?
You need help to build, maintain, and regularly update your drug testing policies and procedures. A trusted partner knows the federal and state regulations, the right TPA can provide you with a review of your current policy and/or customized a policy/procedure package to protect you and bring you into compliance.
Do they offer supervisor training and employee education programs?
DOT regulations require specific supervisor training on drug and alcohol abuse, but Non-DOT companies also need this training. This training should include a full understanding of the existing policy in place, recognition of drug or alcohol use symptoms, and learning how to properly handle and document incidents when they arise.
Do they offer litigation packages and expert witness support?
Litigation packages can make the difference if your company is brought to court. State unemployment compensation may be denied when termination is due to a positive drug or alcohol test, and proper documentation and procedures can prevent this. An experienced TPA should walk you through this process and be available to support you and participate in unemployment hearings.
Do they offer support for FMCSA Clearinghouse?
This is especially important for organizations regulated by the Department of Transportation, FMCSA, as there are very specific regulations that must be adhered to.
For example, in 2019 the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced their “Clearinghouse”, an electronic database that stores driver information and any drug or alcohol-related violations. As of January 6, 2020, all employers and their DOT-regulated employees must be registered in the FMCSA Clearinghouse. An experienced C/TPA can assist with management of your FMCSA Clearinghouse account.
Do they run a random DOT consortia?
Federal DOT regulations 49 CFR Part 40 requires random alcohol and drug testing, and requires certain employers to enter employees into a random testing consortia. All random selections should be performed by a computerized random selection program and, managed by an unbiased third-party, such as a TPA.
PDSS offers a wide range of testing services in accordance with the most up-to-date Department of Transportation federal guidelines and regulations. Visit our website for more information.
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