Random Drug Testing: A Complete Guide for Employers

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Random drug tests help to ensure that your workforce remains sober and deter your employees from abusing alcohol or drugs, which may result in workplace accidents and injuries.

What Is a Random Drug Test?

When employers conduct random drug tests, they select employees for testing randomly.

The employees do not receive prior notice, and the employers use computerized random number generators to ensure each employee is equally likely to be selected.

Since the employees do not receive prior notice of when random testing will happen, this type of program helps to deter and detect drug use.

There are two types of random drug tests, including DOT random testing and non-DOT random testing.

Let’s take a look at both below.

DOT Random Testing

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates companies operating in specific industries and requires them to conduct DOT-compliant random drug tests on an ongoing basis.

DOT drug tests are 5-panel screens that check for the presence of the following substances:

  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Phencyclidine
  • Opioids

If an employee fails the initial DOT drug screen, a medical review officer will conduct a confirmation test. You will then receive drug test results from the lab.

The various agencies within the Department of Transportation have established the following annual testing rates for the companies they regulate:

If one of these agencies regulates your company, you must strictly adhere to the requirements.

DOT auditors look to see whether your company complies with the DOT drug testing standards. If you aren’t, your company could face substantial penalties and fines.

Non-DOT Random Testing

If the DOT agencies don’t regulate your company, you can still implement a random drug testing program as long as you comply with your state’s laws.

Why Do Companies Have Random Drug Testing Programs in the Workplace?

Regulated and non-regulated employers implement random drug testing programs for multiple reasons, including the following:

  • Reduction of accident and injury rates
  • Detection and deterrence of drug and alcohol use/abuse
  • Protection of workplace safety
  • Required for DOT-regulated employers, federal contractors, and the military under federal law
  • Creation of positive and productive work environments
  • Reduction of turnover rates
  • Reduction of sick leave days
  • Reduction of losses
  • Reduction of liability risks

How Does Random Drug Testing Work?

Companies that conduct random drug tests use computerized random number generators to choose a set percentage of employees to test on a randomly selected day each quarter.

The chosen employees then must submit to drug tests within a short window.

Many employers use urine tests, but other types, such as oral fluid tests, might instead be used.

If you use urine testing, the employee will provide a urine sample. A medical review officer will conduct a confirmation test of any positive result and inform the employee and employer.

If you choose an oral fluid or saliva test, the technician will take a saliva sample with a swab from the employee’s mouth and test it. A medical review officer will conduct a confirmation test for any positive result.

Once an employer receives the results, the employer can then discharge the employee, mandate substance abuse counseling, or take other disciplinary action.

How Are Random Drug Tests Implemented in the Workplace? 9 Best Practices

To follow best practices, do the following for your random drug testing procedures:

1. Review the Applicable State and Federal Laws.

Your first step should be to know the relevant laws in your state. If the Department of Transportation regulates your business, be sure to review your industry’s requirements.

2. Draft a Random Drug Test Policy.

Once you understand the laws that apply to you, create a random drug test policy. Make sure your policy includes the random selection method for employees.

You should also include how long employees will have to complete testing, the substances you will test for, the random drug testing methods, and the consequences of refusing a drug test or returning a positive result.

3. Notify Your Employees.

Notify your employees that you will be implementing a random drug testing program.

Provide this notice on a standalone form, and ask each employee to sign a consent form.

4. Decide the Percentage of Employees You Will Test.

Decide the percentage of your employees that you will test each quarter and each year.

If you are a DOT-regulated company, make sure to follow the regulatory standards for the DOT agency that regulates you.

5. Ensure Your Selection Process is Random.

Make sure that your selection process is truly random. Use a computerized random number generator to draw names.

Have someone in your company’s human resources department randomly choose the date each quarter when the drug tests will occur using the random number generator.

6. Choose a Reputable Random Drug Testing Provider.

Choose a reliable random drug testing provider like iprospectcheck that is experienced in conducting drug tests, including DOT-compliant screens.

We understand the regulatory requirements and laws in each state and quickly return accurate results.

7. Give a Short Window Between Notification and Testing.

Limit the time between when you notify selected employees and when they must submit to testing.

Only give them enough time to make it from your business location to the clinic’s location.

8. Tailor Your Tests to Fit Your Needs.

Tailor your random drug testing program to fit your organization’s needs. For example, you might only need to test employees in safety-sensitive positions rather than everyone.

9. Maintain Thorough Documentation.

Make sure to document the entire process, including how you selected the employees, how you notified them, and the complete testing and confirmation process.

Keeping thorough documentation can protect you in the event of an audit or a lawsuit.

iprospectcheck: Your Random Drug Testing Screening Partner of Choice

Random drug testing is a smart way to protect the safety of your business. However, figuring out how to establish a random drug testing program that complies with all of the regulations and laws can be difficult.

At iprospectcheck, we have experience with implementing pre-employment drug testing programs for businesses across the U.S. and keep up-to-date with all regulations and laws. In addition to random drug testing, we provide reasonable suspicion drug testingpost-accident drug testing, and more.