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Question about Workplace Drug Testing

Offer a critical judgment regarding the ethical and legal implications of drug testing given the various factors outlined below:

1) Types of drug tests (urinalysis, sweat tests, and etc.)

2) Reliability of drug testing methods

3) Types of drug testing programs (mandatory, voluntary, and etc.)

4) Appropriateness of certain types of testing programs for specific occupational environments

5) Who to test and why

Any help will be uch appreciated. Thank you.

Solution Preview

Hi,

Let's take a closer look by outline and information from the business research, which you can consider for your final copy. There is a lot of research material to work with. I also attached three resources for convenience that I refer to in the response below.

The five points can act as your tentative outline for the paper, which might look something to the effect...

I. Introduction (quarter to half a page; introduce topic of drug testing; include purpose statement: The purpose of this paper is to...)
II. Types of Drug Tests (urinalysis, sweat tests, and etc.)
III. Reliability of Drug testing methods
IV, Type of drug testing programs
V. Who to test and why
VI. Discussion and Conclusion (e.g. offer a critical judgment regarding the ethical and legal implications of drug testing given the various factors outlined above).

Let's look at information for each section, which you can draw on for each section.

In 1983, only 3% of the Fortune 200 companies were mandatory testing one or more classes of job applicants or employees. By 1991, that number had climbed to 97% (http://www.ohsinc.com/what_every_employer_should_know.htm). However, testing employees or job applicants for drug or alcohol use invokes a controversial area of policy and law that is still establishing its parameters. No one denies that employee drug and alcohol abuse costs employers billions of dollars each year in decreased productivity, increased liability exposure, and higher Worker's Compensation insurance premiums. Employers clearly have a substantial and vested interest in not only providing, but also ensuring, a drug-free workplace, for the safety and welfare of both employees and employers (http://law.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/drug-testing-2). The purpose of this paper is to...

1) Types of drug tests (urinalysis, sweat tests, and etc.)

There are several drug and alcohol tests that are used for various purposes, including the justice system and in employment. For example OSHA reports using the following tests for drug-abuse and alcohol-abuse utilizing either (employees choice)

- Urine specimen analysis (most common in workplace and done correctly, has a reported high rate of accuracy)

- Hair specimen analysis

- Oral fluid specimen analysis (e.g. Saliva / oral fluid-based drug tests can generally detect use during the previous few days. Saliva or oral fluid based drug tests are becoming more prevalent because of their convenience and the fact that they cannot be adulterated. Furthermore, on-site oral based tests in particular enable the implementation of random testing programs, proven to be the most effective type of drug screening. Oral fluid based tests are as accurate as urine and can be obtained from quality suppliers in the United States. Testing is usually performed by employers, for either pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, or return-to-duty testing. Oral fluid based testing most closely mimics results found with blood and is preferable for detecting on-the-job drug use or in post-accident applications in this case because the degree of intoxication can be approximated based on the amount of substance in the blood) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_test#Saliva_drug_screen_.2F_Oral_fluid-based_drug_screen).

- Breath specimen analysis (justice system uses to test drivers of DUI and probation or parolees, but uncommon in the workplace)

- Blood analysis (http://www.health-tests-direct.com/ or Health-Tests-Direct- ) (reliable, intrusive e.g., injection, so uncommon in the workplace)

- "Immediate-Results" devices (displays drug test results in 3-5 minutes) (see more detail at http://www.ohsinc.com/what_every_employer_should_know_part1.htm#4).

Most of these methods are self-explanatory. For example, the standard process of hair analysis includes the following steps: specimen collection, sample washing, digestion or extraction of the hair sample, immunoassay screening, and confirmation or quantization of the various analysis (Henderson et al, 1995). The process of testing for drugs in Kaune and Callahan's research began with the collection of approximately 100 strands of hair from the client by the supervising officer. The sample is labeled in the client's presence and placed in a specialized envelope for shipment to the lab for analysis. Hair samples do not require refrigeration and can be shipped at later date. They should be placed in a secure area, such as a safe or locked filing cabinet in order to maintain the chain of custody (see full study available on-line at http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/journal/kaune-callahan.htm).

2) Reliability of drug testing methods

Urine specimen analysis is the most common by far for drug testing. Blood analysis is not common because it's "invasive" (needle used) but reliable. "Oral" fluids analysis has recently become available; however, it is less reliable at detecting marijuana-use than is provided by testing urine. More people are employing hair specimen analysis, mainly because it will detect drug-use as far back as ninety (90) days, much longer than it is detectable in the urine. For example, random hair testing is the method of choice for the majority of Nevada casinos (http://www.ohsinc.com/what_every_employer_should_know_part2.htm#9b).

For hair analysis used for drug testing, there is conflicting evidence for reliability, some reports of being reliable (http://www.correctionsdrugtesting.com/labinfo.htm) and others not being reliable and racially biased (http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/testing/testing_info2.shtml). For example, a study by the National Institute of Justice found that hair-testing raises questions of external contamination -- i.e. environmental residues that can cling to or penetrate human hair. For example, a U.S. Navy study reported that the dark, coarse hair common among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans is far more likely to retain that contamination, therefore the use of this test will have an even greater chance of error with those groups. Further, the fact that police routinely encounter drugs and drug residues in the line of duty make this an even less appropriate test to use on line officers (see more discussion at http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/testing/testing_info2.shtml).

However, drug testing, when done properly is considered accurate, reports OSHA. The typical procedure is a two-step process in which a urine sample (specimen) is divided in half, and the first half is tested using a relatively simple, inexpensive, yet highly accurate "screen" (usually an "immunoassay"). If the result of that initial screen is "negative" the lab will report the test as "negative" and no additional testing will be performed on that specimen. On the other hand, if the result of the first test is "positive", then a second test is conducted on the second half of the original sample using a different testing process that ...

Solution Summary

This solution identifies the legal and ethical issues associated with workplace drug testing. Also, various types of drug testing programs are considered including the reliability of drug testing methods, types of drug testing programs (mandatory, voluntary, and etc.), appropriateness of certain types of testing programs for specific occupational environments and who should be tested and why. It is supplemented with three highly informative articles on ethical and legal concerns of drug testing, including a sample drug testing policy.

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