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Drug-Testing Checklist

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November Cover

Controversy over drug testing remains. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that employers follow these rules to ensure fairness and avoid lawsuits.


  • Identify and comply with relevant federal or state laws.
  • If applicable, talk with union officials.
  • Identify and contact a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-certified laboratory and a medical review officer.
  • Develop a system to protect the confidentiality of employee drug-testing records.
  • Designate a person at your workplace who will receive the test results from the lab and keep them confidential.
  • Notify employees 30 to 60 days before the drug-testing program goes into effect.
  • Abide by any policies communicated to employees.


  • Enforce a workplace policy inconsistently. An inconsistent policy is unfair and makes an employer a target for litigation.
  • Publicize drug-test results. Disseminate employee or job applicant test results only to those who need to know.
  • Take action if only an initial positive drug-test result is available. A confirmatory test must always be conducted on specimens that had initial positive drug-test results.
  • Use unaccredited laboratories.
  • Address drug abuse without addressing alcohol abuse. Make the dangers of abusing alcohol part of the drug abuse education program you offer employees.
  • Confront a suspected drug user alone. Confronting a person under the influence or engaged in illegal behavior could be physically dangerous. In the event of legal challenge, it helps to have a witness.
  • Allow impaired employees to drive home. Have a supervisor drive them.


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