Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Panel Approves Recommendations on Drug Testing

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Panel Approves Recommendations on Drug Testing

Article excerpt

A state legislative panel studying guidelines for drug testing in the workplace officially approved their recommendations on Tuesday.

The final report of the Task Force on Drug Testing in the Workplace will be the basis for legislation to be introduced for the state legislative session that convenes in February.

In 1991, Rep. Russ Roach, D-Tulsa, introduced House Bill 1468, which would have set uniform standards for drug testing by public and private employers. That measure died in committee, however.

This year, Sen. Concurrent Resolution 70, co-authored by Sen. Paul Muegge, D-Tonkawa, and Rep. Jim Holt, R-Ponca City, created the task force. The panel's role was to look at issues relating to drug testing standards and make recommendations to lawmakers to "protect the rights of both the employee and the employer."

Members of the task force included state lawmakers and representatives of private industry and some state agencies.

If enacted into law, the recommended standards would apply to employers who chose to test for drug or alcohol abuse. They would not require drug testing.

A statement at the beginning of the final report said the task force "acknowledges the validity of employer workplace health and safety concerns and is cognizant of the increasing number of employers who are implementing drug testing as a means of addressing these concerns.

"However, the task force also recognizes that drug testing constitutes a potential invasion of individual privacy."

The statement said minimum standards for workplace drug testing should be adopted by the Legislature to protect the rights of the employees and employers.

The 16 recommendations for proposed legislation are: The Oklahoma Legislature should enact comprehensive legislation regulating, but not mandating, drug and alcohol testing by any employer, and such legislation should ensure appropriate and uniform procedures for such testing and disposition of the results of such testing. Statutory drug and alcohol testing standards and procedures shall apply to testing conducted by both public and private employers. However, the Oklahoma statute shall not apply to testing required by, and conducted pursuant to, the provisions of federal law or regulation. Legislation should be enacted which sets minimum standards which must be followed by private and public employers who choose to conduct drug and alcohol testing. The standards should be specific about the testing process. "Drugs" means amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), hallucinogens, methaqualone, opiates, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, synthetic narcotics, designer drugs or a metabolite of any of those substances.

"Alcohol" means ethyl alcohol or ethanol. No employer may require an employee or employment applicant to undergo a drug test unless the employer has a written, detailed policy setting forth the specifics of its drug testing program.

Included would be a statement of employee drug use policy, which employees or prospective employees are subject to testing, and circumstances where a test would be required. Also included would be testing methods and collection procedures to be used, consequences of refusing a test, and potential penalties for positive test results.

The statement also would have to set forth the rights of the person being tested to have explained, in confidence, the results, and the individual's right to obtain all information and records related to his or her tests. …

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