Hiring the best employees is never easy, especially when so many people abuse drugs. In industries such as construction, physical safety is paramount and drug use can lead to serious injury to employees or others around them. Drug testing is a key tool for many employers in making sure workers can perform their jobs safely, so here’s what you need to know about the most common types of testing.
5-Panel vs. 10-Panel Tests
The 5-panel drug test is the more cost-effective option, but it only detects the five drugs considered to be most dangerous. It tells you if an employee is using amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates or PCP. However, there are plenty of other substances that can impair people’s judgment and ability to work safely. The 10 panel drug test detects barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methaqualone, propoxyphene and methadone in addition to the first five panels.
It’s important to note that methadone can be prescribed legally to treat opioid addiction, so an employee testing positive for it may be part of a legitimate treatment program.
When administering drug tests, employers must be aware that each drug has a different window of detection. Amphetamines, for example, will only show up on a drug screen for one to two days after the person last used. Marijuana, on the other hand, is detectable from one day to about five weeks after last consumption. Becoming familiar with detection windows is important if you suspect someone is using a particular drug or you need to administer a drug screen after a workplace incident.
Getting Tests Back
Drug tests aren’t instant. It typically takes one or two business days for the results to return from the lab, and a few days longer if the person tests positive. Once you receive the confirmed results, you can use them to take disciplinary action if necessary.