Magazine article Security Management

Drug Use and Testing in the Workplace

Magazine article Security Management

Drug Use and Testing in the Workplace

Article excerpt

DRUG USE among employees and job applicants continued to decline in 2006, according to the annual Drug Testing Index released recently by Quest Diagnostics, Inc. Of the urine drug tests performed on any workers for any reason by the company during 2006, 3.8 percent showed positive results. That percent has hovered between 4 percent and 5 percent since 1998; it was 13.6 percent in 1988, the first year the index was published.

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The 2006 Drug Testing Index summarizes the results of more than nine million workplace drug tests performed by Quest Diagnostics from January to December. Results include the annual positive drug rates from 1988 to the present and statistics on three populations: the general work force, workers in safety sensitive positions that must undergo drug testing as a result of federal law, and a combined work force.

Of the total number of tests analyzed in the current index, two million were performed on employees in safety-sensitive positions, which include airline pilots and mechanics, bus and truck drivers, and workers in nuclear power plants.

Reductions in the use of two types of drugs contributed to the downward trend. Employees who tested positive for the use of amphetamines as a percent of all who were tested declined by 12.5 percent among the general work force and by 20 percent within the safety worker population. The number of positive tests for marijuana, as a percent of the total tests for the drug, was down to 2.38 percent among the general work force. The number of marijuana users among safety-sensitive workers fell below 1 percent for the first time.

"Our data reflects the statistics from employers who include drug testing as a part of their drug free workplace program; it's not reflective of society as a whole" cautions Barry Sample, Ph.D., the director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics' employer solutions division.

There are differences in the positive test rates for the general workforce versus the employees subject to testing by federal mandate. The mandated group is subject to pre-employment as well as random tests.

In 2006, the data show a positive test rate among safety-sensitive workers of 2.3 percent in preemployment testing and 1. …

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