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Health and Safety Services,
to OHS™! Thank you...for your interest in our company and
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testing is NOT about "catching" your employees using drugs...it's
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An MBA candidate e-mails
OHS, Inc. and asks us for some straight answers about workplace drug testing:
is it necessary today for employers to test for the illegal use of drugs?" ■ "How much does employee drug testing cost a company today?"
"How easy is it to cheat a drug test?"
there a cost/benefit payback to a company that drug tests their employees?"
straight answers to these and other
-----Original Message----- From: Adam (last name and e-mail address deleted
by OHS to protect privacy) Sent:
Saturday, March 27, 2004 9:11 AM To: Ed Poole Subject: Corporate Drug Testing
My name is Adam (last
name deleted by OHS to protect
privacy) and I am
currently enrolled in the (university name deleted by
OHS to protect privacy) MBA program. I am doing a persuasive
presentation on why it is necessary for corporations to test for the illegal
use of drugs. I was hoping that you would be able to answer a few of my
- Why is it
necessary for corporations today to test for the illegal use of drugs?
There are three facts about illegal drugs
that lead up to at least one very good reason, Adam:
(1) Today, just 'one' country - a country with only 'five'
percent (5%) of the entire world's population - buys
and consumes fully sixty percent (60%) of the entire world's
supply of illicit drugs.
(2) That 'one' country
is our United States.
(3) In the United
States, 77% of all illicit drug users are EMPLOYED!
- Can you give me a rough estimate of how
much it costs to test one applicant? OHS, Inc.
is a national company with drug testing clients in all 50 states, and we charge
from a low of $25 per drug test to a high of $65. The "volume" of testing
done by the client annually is the primary variable which applies. As
my competitors, a substantially lower per-test price is offered to
a company doing 5,000 to10,000 or more tests annually than to a company doing only
500-1,000 drug tests...or only 5-10 tests each year. Our cost
collection" at the clinic we must use nearby the client's location(s) also
impacts the price (up or down) we ultimately charge. Those costs (the
specimen collection, alone) vary around the country from as little as $7 to as
much as $35, although the national average is about $16.
I estimate that average price per drug test nationally overall (large corporations and
medium-sized to very small businesses included) is about $44 per
test. That includes cost of collection and lab analysis, but not necessarily the
cost of optional Medical Review Officer (MRO) services which usually add about another
$2-$3 per test. MRO services are required by federal law of
companies testing employees regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation
(big rig truck drivers, airline pilots, oil/gas/pipeline workers, and so
Using an MRO is also required by state law in at least nine states of all companies
- including those that are not DOT regulated - if they drug test their employees. The
important role of the MRO in the drug testing
process is explained on this page of our website:
- I know that there are different types of
tests (blood, urine, hair), which is most effective and what is the cost
difference amongst them? For the
most part, forget blood. Blood is tested for illicit drugs only in extreme or
unique cases (e.g., the tested individual is unconscious, due to an accident) and in some Court-ordered cases.
During 2003, an estimated 55 million drug tests were performed
n the United States
on job applicants, existing employees who were randomly tested, employees who
had or caused a workplace accident or injury, certain federal and state
prisoners, certain parolees, recovering addicts, moms or dads who were drug
tested by court-order as a result of child custody cases, et al. More
than 90% of those 55 million drug tests were performed using urine specimens,
As mentioned above, urine test cost probably averages $44. Hair specimen
testing is about $115-$150 per test nationally. Hair can indicate
drug-use (can be "effective") as far back as 90 days. Most drugs are
detectable in urine for only 1-4 days; exceptions are marijuana and less-so,
accuracy" is not an issue with either hair or urine specimen analysis, though a
few detractors will disagree. Hair advocates claim that "more" positives are
discovered through hair testing. I would agree in largest part because hair
results can go back further than the 1-4 days available through urine
testing. In any case, the most effective testing "program" is random
(the immediate testing of an individual with zero advance notice given) testing throughout
the entire year.
- How easy is it to cheat on a test (drink
something) that will allow an applicant to pass even though they recently took
companies that sell the stuff that claim to help you cheat also claim
100% success. I very highly doubt it.
Laboratories disagree too, countering that advances in lab analysis have
enabled them to detect most if not all such attempts.
Further, most of these products that are ingested as an attempt to cheat
require measured consumption at numerous intervals of time over a 24-48
hour period prior to providing the urine specimen for testing.
(zero notice given) testing greatly hinders if not virtually eliminates any
cheating success through "drinking something". Whatever is
consumed has zero time to then cause any demonstrable change in an
individual's system/urine, and therefore will not "change" the results of a
- Are there studies that display the
percentage decrease in worker output if they are on drugs?
There are have been many
such studies, from
different sources including government agencies, university studies, and
non-profit organizations. All of them independently come up with quite
similar findings of workplace drug-users being "35%" or "33%" or "30%" less
productive...also resulting in poorer quality production of company's products
or services, and greater frequency of accidents, more injuries, plus damaged-lost-stolen
company equipment and supplies.
It is especially tragic that druggies at work who steal from their company
also tend to steal from their fellow
employees- their co-workers. Why? They
steal to help "supplement" the cost of
their drugs not offset by their employer's wages. They also tend to "recruit"
other employees and try to "deal" drugs to them at a profit for that same
Druggies will always deny at least some of the foregoing, claiming that they
actually can work better, longer, and are "sharper" at work due to their
workplace drug-use. They're wrong of course, and simply in
denial. Mind-altering drugs (legitimately prescribed or illicit) are called
"mind-altering" for very good reason.
- I basically want to provide a cost/benefit
analysis on drug testing and provide a payback. If you can get back to me at
your convenience I would really appreciate it. Again thanks for your help.
Fine, it’s a great
and enlightening exercise. As our example, let's use a company with 100 employees. (You can
later project this up or down to a company with only "10" employees or
with 1,000, 10,000, or
Using 100 employees as the number in our sample company, assume a 30% annual attrition rate (resigned/fired/new
hires added). Assume an "average"cost
of $44 per each pre-employment drug test and per each random drug test
(industry standard is to always test "randomly" each year at a test "rate" of
50% of the total number of employees). The same $44 cost per tests would
apply to each "reasonable suspicion" and "post-accident drug test, too.
Given the above example, there will be a total of 80 pre-employment and random tests (30+50) performed for
the company annually. Then assume another 10 drug tests annually are ordered
as "post-accident" and another 10 tests are ordered each year due to
"reasonable suspicion". (Or, shuffle
those numbers back or forth. The point is, "assume" another 20
drug tests annually, combined either for that first reason or that second one).
So, to incorporate a solid and very highly effective, year-around Drug-Free
Workplace program, we are now at "100" total drug tests done annually for the
typical company with 100 employees. At $44 per test, that means the company
is investing $4,400 per year in what would be - I assure you - a very highly effective Drug-Free
Let me clearly define what I mean by,
"very highly effective".
In the first 3-4 months of newly-instituted
random drug testing of their employees, every company can normally anticipate
(i.e., "expect") drug "positive" rates of at least 5% to as high as 22%.
If it is a
"construction" company, it would not at all be unusual that the early positive
rate will be as high as 18%-26% of all existing employees who get tested.
And, if it is a "restaurant", they could anticipate a
positive rate perhaps as high as 12%-16%. These two industries (construction
and food services) rank as number one and number two in overall workplace drug
abuse. That is per actual stats determined by national labs which do millions of drug
tests annually. On the other hand, when testing employees at a
secretarial service word-processing firm or a department store, the
anticipated "initial" positive rate might be as low as 5%-7%.
When I assert that the Drug-Free Workplace program as in the above scenario
company of 100 (or "10", or 1,000 or 10,000) will result in a "very
highly effective" Drug-Free Workplace, I mean exactly this:
By the end of the first full year - at latest - the rate of drug "positives"
coming back on the lab reports will
drop by 50% to as much as 80%. Drug positive rates
of 26% will drop to as little as 5% and positive rates of 5% will drop to as
low as 1%. That's
"first year" improvement. Further, such dramatic improvement will certainly
be at the very least "maintained" - if not bettered - in year two and subsequent years
as long as the a drug testing program such as I described above remains
steadfastly in place throughout the year. That means
maintaining pre-employment AND random AND reasonable
suspicion AND post-accident drug testing all year around!
So...what happens to those employees caught "positive"?
They get fired and go to work at some other company that does NOT drug test.
What about new employees replacing them?
Well, most individuals who "do" drugs don't even apply for an opening at a
company that advertises in the local paper's Help Wanted section as a "Drug-Free
Given the chance for a job at a company that does NOT drug test its employees,
druggies will almost always apply there instead!
Exceptions to that practice include
drug-users who go "off" drugs for a few days before job interviewing,
so their system will be clean when taking a "pre-employment" drug test.
And these "exceptions" (drug-users that pass a pre-employment drug test) are one of the
primary reasons that "random" testing and "reasonable suspicion" testing
and "post-accident" testing are allabsolutely essential
elements in developing and maintaining a very highly effective
Soon, the company that once had 100 employees that included a
half-dozen to two dozen people who "did" drugs in the workplace and
perhaps even "dealt" drugs in the workplace becomes a
"Drug-Free Workplace". The result? Company production increases and quality of products
and services improve...sick days are fewer, injuries decrease, the number of
Workers' Comp claims get reduced, the company's Workers' Comp and health
insurance premiums stabilize,
company equipment and supplies stop being damaged or disappearing as
There's even more reward than that.
A sometimes not considered wonderful additional benefit to
the now Drug-Free Workplace Company comes with all of this, too:
overall employee morale improves dramatically.
Why? Because, those
employees who do not do drugs usually know "which" employees do.
Adam, is the
above persuasive enough for
your MBA presentation? I do
hope the above information will help you. If it gets you your MBA, then
please have them send me one, too.
My very best
wishes to you for great success with your presentation!
Poole Wishing you good health and personal
Edward W. Poole edpoole@OHSinc.com
President/COO OHS Health & Safety Services, Inc.
1835 Newport Boulevard, Suite D-258
Costa Mesa, California 92626 USA
949.764.9301 ext. 205 1.800.456.4.OHS (647)
Fax: 949.764.9306 "OHS, Inc.
is proudly helping small and large employers in 50 U.S.
states and six countries to maintain a Drug-Free Workplace." NEWS
FLASH: Ranking.com confirms it for the third straight year!
OHSinc.com is THE INTERNET'S #1
for comprehensive drug testing and drug-abuse prevention information!
(Source: Ranking.com 12-20-2002, 6-14-2003, and 3-5-2004)
You're invited, too! Join the 95,000+ people from 70+ countries
who visit our website every month:
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Health & Safety Services, Inc.
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1835 Newport Blvd., Bldg. D,
Mesa, California 92626 U.S.A.