CareNow® - January 14, 2022

You've searched long and hard for the perfect candidate to join your company, and you've finally found them! They have an excellent resume and all the skills needed to complete the job successfully. But now the next question: Is their body free of substances that could possibly prevent them from doing their job safely or effectively? 

Business owners have the responsibility of creating a safe and comfortable work environment for all their employees. Maintaining a drug-free workplace can help prevent accidents or injuries on the job. Pre-employment drug screens are necessary to ensure companies are not only hiring reliable employees but safe ones as well. 

As a private employer, you have the right to implement workplace policies regarding employee drug testing thanks to local, state and federal laws. If you decide to enforce pre-employment drug screening, regulatory guidelines require a written policy to be administered, which also serves as an educational tool for potential employees.

If you decide to implement a drug screening policy at your workplace, do your research carefully to ensure legal compliance. The benefits of a safer and more productive workforce are worth the investment. 

Why Should You Require Employment Drug Testing?


Requiring pre-employment drug testing allows you to decide if a prospective hire uses illicit drugs or abuses prescription medication. You can also require these types of tests randomly throughout employment to help prevent accidents and health issues with your employees.

Workplace Safety

If your workplace requires heavy machinery, manual labor or driving of any kind, an employee completing these tasks under the influence can pose a safety threat to themselves and their co-workers. In fact, drug-abusing employees are 3.6 times more likely to injure themselves or co-workers. Don't put your employees' health and safety at risk. In addition to pre-employment drug screening, random testing for all employees can also ensure your workers are safe and drug-free.

State and Federal Regulations

Depending on the industry your company is in, some state and federal regulations may require drug screens. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires drug testing for many occupations related to transportation. In addition, Healthcare and education occupations may also require drug testing, depending on the state.

Public Relations

Even if you are not required by law to enforce employee drug screens, having them can boost the public perception of your company. It also can help potential employees feel safe and trusting of your business. Having employee drug screens tells potential employees you care about the health and safety of people involved in your company.


Drug screens performed before and during employment deter employees from abusing illegal substances, thus preventing injuries and other unlawful activities such as theft.

Urine Tests vs. Hair Follicle Tests

Now that we've established the benefits of requiring drug screening, the next step is to determine what type of test you should use. The two most popular types of drug tests include urine and hair tests. 

Urine Tests

Urine tests are one of the most common and non-invasive tests. A healthcare provider will collect a urine sample to send to a lab for testing. This is done by urinating in a sterile cup as instructed by your provider. 

However, there are some notable cons with urine testing. While the temperature, pH, and creatinine are checked to ensure the sample's integrity, tampering is still a risk. People have found ways to "cheat" these tests by diluting their sample, using someone else's urine or even using fake urine. Therefore, if a urine test is performed, it's important to monitor it properly to prevent someone skewing the results.

What types of drugs can be detected in a urine drug test? The most common drug test panel tests for:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana (also called THC)
  • Opiates (narcotics), such as heroin, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone
  • Methamphetamines, amphetamines, crystal meth
  • Phencyclidine, or PCP

However, essentially any drug can be tested for depending on what test is requested.

Hair Follicle Tests

Hair follicle testing analyzes for illegal drugs within the hair shaft and measures drug molecules entrapped in hair. One benefit of hair follicle testing is the ability to detect drug use over a period of months. Unlike urine tests, hair follicle testing is nearly impossible to cheat.

For the hair follicle test, the healthcare provider cuts a small lock of hair—about the width of a shoelace tip. The hair needs to be at least 1.5 inches long per strand to be analyzed. Hair from the chest, leg or armpit can also be tested, but head hair is most commonly used. 

What type of drugs can be detected in a hair test?

A hair follicle drug test typically screens for:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana (also called THC)
  • Opiates (narcotics), such as heroin, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone
  • Methamphetamines, amphetamines, crystal meth
  • Phencyclidine, or PCP

Types of Drug Testing

There are several drug tests that can be given. Which test you choose depends on why the test is being taken in the first place. For example, if there is a concern about drug use, a rapid drug screening may be needed; however, a standard test is usually OK for more routine screening.

Standard 10-Panel Drug Screen

This is the most common drug test performed. Patients taking this type of drug test will be screened for 10 different drug categories, including Amphetamines and Opioids. In most cases, results may be given as early as the following day.

Rapid Drug Screen

Like the name suggests, this type of drug test is "rapid" and is the fastest one given. This allows potential employees to get in and out of the office or clinic very quickly. Typically, the results of this type of test can be provided to business owners within the hour.

NIDA 5-Panel Drug Screen

The National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a federal agency supporting scientific studies and drug abuse research. The agency created a 5-panel drug test that screens for signs of THC, Cocaine, PCP, amphetamines, and opiates.

DOT Drug Screen

This is the Department of Transportation's "go-to" drug screen. Patients who work in the trucking industry and carry a CDL license are usually required to take this test. 

Breath Alcohol Testing

Explicitly used for alcohol, the breath alcohol test (also known as the BAT) helps determine the amount of alcohol in someone's blood based on the amount of alcohol in the air after the person exhales.

Where to Get Employee Drug Testing

If you are interested in implementing employee drug testing at your business, consider visiting your local CareNow®. At CareNow®, our independent practitioners provide a full range of primary and urgent care services, including extensive occupational medicine.

To find the nearest CareNow® to you, visit our website. Be sure to utilize the Web Check-In® to avoid the waiting room before your visit!

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions, or deciding if medical advice is right for you.