How drug testing has changed because of COVID-19

Workplace drug testing requires new procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak, but must continue.

David Bell, writing in HR Morning, tells of an incident where a test subject refused to take a drug test, fearing exposure to the COVID-19 virus:

A test subject, while waiting to take a drug test, realized that a co-worker was coughing in the restroom. He then refused to enter the restroom because there was a risk that his co-worker might have COVID-19.

David Bell, HR Expert Contributor

The drug tests were being administered onsite using a mobile trailer where there were no other rest-rooms/facilities available. The refusal raised red flags that perhaps he was avoiding the test, despite valid concerns of the employee. Clearly, there was evidence that the employee may be at risk of contracting COVID-19 because of the employers’ drug testing requirements.

As soon as  COVID-19 made its way to North America, drug testing companies increased their safety measures. The goal was to provide the safest environment for both employees and the collectors.

At times, it may be difficult to sustain the 6ft of space between subject and tester. Urine tests are better suited for maintaining physical distancing requirements. Sanitation requirements have been increased since the presence of COVID-19 in North America. The frequency of cleaning between drug-testing collections has also increased to minimize risk of exposure to the co-worker and collections staff.

Drug testing facilities have also increased other sanitation procedures, such as frequently cleaning hard surfaces like countertops, chairs, and doorknobs, and collectors being mandated to follow specific guidelines on how to clean breathalyzers between uses.

If an employee expresses concern about submitting to a drug test, they can be assured that there are guidelines in place to protect them from the spread of the virus.

Refusing a drug test, even over COVID-19 concerns, must still be reported as a refusal to test. Employers drug test their employees in order to provide the safest possible work environment for everyone. 

Many companies have employees working from home during this pandemic, but numerous others are working overtime in factories, hospitals and other essential businesses to keep goods and services going.

Despite the pandemic affecting the world, employee drug testing should continue. Everyone deserves the right to go to work without fearing for their safety.

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