Alpha CHECKPOINT offers services that can meet your business, medical-legal,
individual (private) testing and forensic needs.

Serving Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo,
and across the country, since December of 2000.

Drug Testing FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace has received growing attention and has become a major concern for employers, in part due to the fact that substance abuse in the workplace has affected the health and financial well-being of many businesses in America.  Employers should keep in mind that more than 75% of all drug users are employed somewhere.  Alcohol and drug abuse costs the economy billions of dollars every year. 


How do employed drug users affect the workplace?

  • they have reduced productivity and quality of work (studies report drug abusing employees as being 33% less productive);
  • they have an increased number of Workers' Compensation claims filed due to higher workplace accidents (5 times more likely to file a Workers' Compensation claim);
  • they are more likely to injure themselves and/or others increasing disability costs (3.6 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident);
  • they are more frequently tardy (3 times more likely to be late for work);
  • they have a higher rate of job turnover;
  • they are more likely to steal (theft or fraud) from their employer;
  • they have more conflicts with supervisors and co-workers and a higher number of disciplinary actions;
  • they have higher health insurance costs due to seeking health care more frequently, often for illnesses or conditions related to substance use.  Drug using employees use three times as much sick leave, or benefits, as other workers.  This leads to higher health insurance costs for the employers.  Studies estimate that non-alcoholic members of alcoholic families use ten times as much sick leave as members of families in which alcoholism is not present;
  • employers have increased exposure to litigation.


 What gives the employer the right to test their employees for drugs and alcohol? 

  • There are laws in place that give an employer the right to test.  Consult your company's attorney for further information.


 What should a company policy include?

 An employer should have a well written policy that includes:      

  • the company's drug and alcohol policy;
  • covered employees - spells out who is going to be tested (is everyone going to be in the pool or just the drivers, warehouse employees, etc.);
  • restrictions on the use and possession of illicit drugs and alcohol including consequences for positive tests;
  • circumstances for drug and alcohol testing such as pre-employment, random, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion;
  • drug and alcohol testing procedures.

Keep in mind if you are a DOT (Department of Transportation) regulated company, the employer has an obligation to promulgate a policy on the misuse of alcohol and use of controlled substances in the workplace (part 382, subpart F of the Federal Register).  The requirements are extensive and it is recommended that you consult with a company that is experienced with these type of policies.  Alpha CHECKPOINT of Rochester can assist you to stay in compliance with the federal regulations.


What type of employers test for drugs and alcohol?

  • Some employers are mandated to test by the federal government, through the DOT (Department of Transportation) such as:

                Federal Highway Administration (i.e. truck      drivers who are required to hold a commercial driver's license)

                Federal Aviation Administration (i.e. pilots, flight crews, flight attendants, air traffic controllers, maintenance);

                Federal Railroad Administration (i.e. operators, dispatchers);

                Federal Transit Administration (i.e. mass transit vehicle operators, controllers, mechanics); 

                United States Coast Guard (i.e. maritime crew members operating a commercial vessel);

                Research and Special Programs Administration (i.e. pipeline operations, maintenance and emergency response personnel).

  • Some employers test voluntarily because they have a commitment to having a drug free workplace.


What effect does a drug and alcohol testing program have in the workplace?

Implementing a drug and alcohol testing program can deter employees from coming to work unfit for duty and can also discourage drug abusers from joining the workplace in the first place.

Employers will benefit from:

  • having a better caliber of job applicants (eliminating those who test positive in the pre-hiring phase or discouraging those who use drugs and alcohol from applying);
  • creating a safer workplace (i.e. less accidents);
  • creating a better public image (some stores post that they test all job applicants);
  • improved employee morale;
  • improved productivity;
  • less turnover.


Are there financial benefits to having a drug free workplace?

  • reduced insurance costs.  There are incentive programs offered by:  medical and health insurance carriers; property, casualty and liability insurance carriers; and Workers' Compensation insurance carriers;
  • lower costs due to fewer errors, less absenteeism, less theft and fraud;
  • reduced costs of hiring and training new employees when you have less turnover;
  • New York State Unemployment and Workers' Compensation laws benefits the employer in that it may disqualify employees from receiving benefits if the employee tests positive for drugs or alcohol and could be very beneficial to the employer in saving costs related to these benefits.  Check with your local and state laws regarding applicability to your workplace.


What is the best way to test for drugs?

Urine provides a convenient sample for detection of drugs due to its easy and non-invasive availability but may only detect recent use.  Hair testing has become very popular in testing for chronic drug use.  Testing the hair for drugs of abuse can detect drug use up to the last 90 days.   There are other methods of testing available such as oral fluid testing.


What are adulterants?

Products that aim to help employees beat a required drug test.  These may include:

  • bringing in someone else's urine;
  • diluting the samples;
  • adding oxidizing agents which chemically alter or destroy drugs and/or their metabolites;
  • adding non-oxidizing adulterants that change the pH of the urine sample;
  • consuming diuretics which help in the dilution of a urine sample;
  • adding surfactants, or soaps.  When added to a urine sample in the proper amounts, it can trap fatty marijuana metabolites.


What processes are in place to minimize the use of adulterants?

  • use of temperature strips on the sample;
  • laboratories will test the samples for the most common adulterants;
  • laboratories will test the pH of the samples;
  • providing on-site testing - notifying the employee immediately prior to the test minimizing access to adulterants. 


What is alcohol's effect on the brain and other body systems?  (click on hyperlink for handout)

Basic Penalties, Degree of Impairment and Insurance Penalties (click on hyperlink for handout)

How long do drugs of abuse stay in the body? (click on hyperlink for handout)

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