Decline in marijuana screening raises security issues

Employers throughout the US are ordering fewer exams for marijuana in prehire drug screens even because the variety of optimistic drug exams is on the rise — a development that’s elevating issues in regards to the potential implications for office security.

Screening dips in states which have accepted marijuana for leisure use are notably troubling, as they point out that employers are forgoing drug testing as a result of authorized dangers and staffing points.

Nationwide, 99% of drug exams in 2016 included screening for marijuana, and in 2017 that determine dropped to 98.four%, in keeping with knowledge compiled by Barry Pattern, Seneca, South Carolina-based senior director of science and expertise for the employer options enterprise at Quest Diagnostics Inc.

States with legalized marijuana noticed the very best drops in screening for the drug. In response to Mr. Pattern, 98.1% of employment drug exams in Colorado screened for marijuana in 2016, a determine that dropped to 96.2% in 2017; and 98.2% of exams in Washington state screened for marijuana in 2016, dropping to 97% of exams in 2017.

About 70% of drug exams ordered within the office are for prehire screenings, he mentioned.

Such figures, set alongside current knowledge on a rise in optimistic drug exams within the office, are a security concern, specialists say, with 30 states and the District of Columbia legalizing medical marijuana and 9 states approving its use recreationally.

“It is a scenario we now have to concentrate to,” mentioned Jim Smith, president of the American Society of Security Engineers and the regional chief of threat management security companies at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Boca Raton, Florida.

The well-publicized report launched by Quest on Could eight reveals the very best optimistic drug take a look at percentages in 10 years.

Total, the report confirmed optimistic urine drug testing among the many mixed U.S. workforce in 2016 was four.2% — a rise over the 2014 price of four%. Constructive exams for marijuana use continued to climb in each the federally mandated, safety-sensitive and normal U.S. workforces, in keeping with the research.

In saliva testing, marijuana positivity elevated practically 75%, to eight.9% of the overall U.S. workforce in 2016 from 5.1% in 2013. Marijuana positivity additionally elevated in each urine testing — 2.5% in 2016 vs. 2.four% in 2015 — and hair testing —7.three% in 2016 vs. 7% in 2015 — in the identical inhabitants.

Whereas some drug screens can gauge for ranges of intoxication — indicating whether or not a employee is intoxicated on the time of being within the office or on the time of an accident — marijuana can solely take a look at for presence within the physique, Mr. Pattern mentioned, including that the science to gauge marijuana intoxication is “a really great distance off.”

“Making an attempt to develop a acknowledged nationwide normal for impairment for alcohol took a while,” he mentioned. “When it comes to marijuana, there isn’t any knowledge that will assist information or adequately say what impairment is.”

Testing for marijuana, in contrast to that for alcohol, is a predicament for employers as a result of there isn’t any strategy to scientifically inform whether or not an individual ingested the drug that very same day, over the weekend or over the previous month, specialists have famous.

Firms — besides, for instance, these within the transportation business required to check for medicine by federal rules — are stepping away from drug screens as a strategy to keep away from points filling positions, particularly in states with accepted leisure and medical marijuana.

One other concern is that some states prohibit employers from firing or not hiring an worker with a medical marijuana card, mentioned Adam Kemper, Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based senior counsel with Greenspoon Marder L.L.P. The problem might put the employer in violation of the federal People with Disabilities Act, he mentioned, including that the problem has employers perplexed.

“I believe numerous employers are stepping away from (office drug) testing as a result of they don’t need to get into realizing whether or not their workers are utilizing after which contemplating whether or not or not they need to take motion, or whether or not taking motion can be an ADA violation,” he mentioned. “If the worker is performing, possibly the employer doesn’t need to intrude on the worker’s life. That’s the truth numerous occasions. You may have employers taking a look at efficiency (on the job) solely.”

Dr. Todd Simo, Charlotte, North Carolina-based chief medical officer for the drug screening agency HireRight L.L.C., isn’t satisfied employers will pull again from testing for medicine — even with what he known as slight dips.

“Firms spend 3 times on medical care prices for staff on illicit medicine,” Dr. Simo mentioned, noting different advantages for firms who choose to drug-test their staff comparable to enhancing productiveness or lowering absenteeism.

The dip in testing for marijuana, which Mr. Smith of ASSE known as “alarming,” is also the results of the U.S. Occupational Security and Well being Administration’s digital record-keeping regulation, which discourages employers from conducting drug testing post-injury.

“I don’t assume drug testing goes away,” he mentioned. “I do know some folks have stopped doing it on account of OSHA,” which is making “the idea that folks is not going to report (harm) claims due to drug testing.”

In 2017, ASSE recommended that OSHA rescind the digital recordkeeping rule, which requires sure employers to annually electronically submit harm and sickness knowledge that they’re already required to report on their on-site OSHA Damage and Sickness varieties. Employers have objected to the rule’s limitations on incident-based employer security incentive applications and/or routine necessary post-accident drug testing programs. They have been additionally troubled by the anti-retaliation provisions within the rule, which established a brand new, citation-based pathway for worker complaints.

The rule “created numerous confusion for employers,” Mr. Smith mentioned.

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