CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES ON THE RISE – SO IS SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Construction and building is booming in the United States for the most part. This is true in one of the fastest growing areas of our country – Myrtle Beach, SC. Population growth is exploding in South Carolina and much of it is happening in the eastern upstate. With this explosion in growth comes a higher demand for construction workers including heavy equipment operators, tradesmen and laborers. Not only is the demand for these workers getting higher – so are the workers.

“Not only is the demand for these workers getting higher – so are the workers.”

According to a recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), the construction industry now has the second highest percentage (14.3%) of drug users on the job. This percentage trails the accommodations and food services industry which is the leader at 16.9% of drug users. The construction industry also comes in second place on the heels of the mining industry when it comes to heavy alcohol use.

 

According to Tom Jackson, in his story published in Equipment World, “Drugs bring big problems. The Department of Labor says drug and alcohol abuse contribute to up to 65 percent of on-the-job accidents and up to 50 percent of workers’ compensation claims. Substance abusers are absent from work an average of five days a month, are ten times more likely to steal from the company or other employees, use three times the normal level of employee health benefits and incur 300 percent higher medical costs.”

 

While some companies perform pre-employment drug screening of applicants, very few perform ongoing random drug screening to maintain a substance free workplace. Even fewer companies have comprehensive substance free workplace policies in place to implement such a program and provide protection for the company, its employees and customers. Having an effective policy in place allows a company to perform random testing, post accident testing and reasonable suspicion testing. Testing without a policy in place exposes the company to potential liability and claims of discrimination. Training should also be provided to train supervisors on how to detect, observe and report use and abuse on the job.

 

Partnering with a professional consultant and company that can assist in setting up and managing a substance free workplace is becoming far more cost effective and beneficial to these extremely busy and fast moving construction companies. Carolina Testing based in Conway, SC is one local, responsive and professional company able to provide a full array of substance free workplace services. Services include simple drug screening services to fully managed services including consulting services, policy creation, program management, employee screening and random program management.

 

We were high school sweethearts destined to be together forever. He set off for the Army and I set off for college. We parted ways for four long years, always trying to keep our relationship close throughout. Despite our best efforts, there was the occasional misstep that took our relationship into dangerous territory during these years apart as we both took the opportunity to explore other “interests.” Rest assured, that when we were able to reconnect, we did so with renewed passion and excitement. We married in 2012, got pregnant on the honeymoon and had our first son in June 2013. Our daughter was born in September 2014 and our second son, who was not exactly planned, was born in January 2016.

 

Jim and I had a good marriage and a wonderful family life with three wonderful, happy, healthy children. There was, however, a nagging question from Jim overshadowing the birth of our second son. You see, during the summer of 2015 I reconnected with some college friends for a weekend getaway in the mountains and we had a great mini-reunion. Old roommates, friends (including a past fling) were all there and we all had a great time. I shared everything about the weekend with Jim – including who was there. Shortly after that weekend, I found out I was pregnant and shared the exciting and unexpected news with Jim.

 

A year after our second son was born, the questions started floating. Our first two children had beautiful blonde hair, but our third child’s hair remained darker brown – even after a year. Jim would jokingly say that he was not the father of our third son – pointing out how he looked nothing like him. He was right. Our son looked much more like my side of the family. One night, my husband confided in me that he really was wondering if our third child was really his. He confessed that he had wondered if I had another “fling” during that summer reunion in 2015. He didn’t want to think that because he loved and trusted me so much and I had never given him reason not to trust me. Sure, we both experimented during our four years apart, but we came right back together perfectly and we were completely open about everything. The thought just kept creeping back into his head and he couldn’t shake it. At first I was hurt and kind of angry that he would even think for a moment that I would ever cheat on him, but then I realized that he had been struggling with this for quite some time and it was starting to effect our marriage.

 

That’s when I took action. I knew the truth and had nothing to worry about, but I had to put his concerns to rest – for his sake and for the sake of our marriage. I called and scheduled a DNA paternity test to be conducted the next day. I asked the person at the clinic how long the results took and they said that we would have the results in 3-5 business days. They explained the testing process to me and answered all of my questions.

 

On the third day following the testing, we received the official results from the laboratory.   Jim took one look at the results, laughed, shook his head, kissed me and apologized for letting those crazy ideas get into his head. Then he proudly announced that he knew it all along – after all, they both had brown eyes…

 

Sure, I could have gotten mad, defensive and argued my case, but there would have always been lingering unanswered questions. Taking that DNA paternity test was the best investment in my marriage that I could have ever made.

Hair Follicle Drug Tests on the Rise

Hair follicle drug tests are growing in popularity for two main reasons – the inability to cheat the test and the longer term detection window provided by such a test. In addition to standard hair follicle tests, some labs are also now offering environmental exposure testing using hair samples.

1. Inability to cheat the test

Hair follicle tests involve a directly observed hair collection by a trained specimen collector. Unlike urine specimen testing, where a donor is behind closed doors, this specimen collection process cannot be subverted or hidden in any manner. A quick “clean up” fix like those offered online are great money makers for those selling the products, but they have no effect on hair follicle testing results. The excuse that you were exposed to drug smoke does not hold any water either as a standard hair follicle test involves special processes to clean the hair prior to testing and the matter being tested is the inside of the hair itself.   If an environmental exposure test is ordered, the test result will clearly identify the positive reading as exposure and not use. More on exposure testing later in this article.

2. Longer detection window

Unlike urine testing which detects usage for the past 2-7 days (longer for marijuana users), hair testing typically provides a window of detection for 90 days or more. When drugs are taken, the metabolites go into the hair follicle, and then into the strands themselves, where they stay, pretty much forever. Hair on your head typically grows at a rate of approximately .5 inches per month. In this case, if your hair was 18 inches long, and you tested the entire length of hair, they could find drugs consumed more than 3 years ago! There is no reason to worry about this in most cases, because the standard hair follicle test only tests 1.5 inches from the root end of the hair strands.

If head hair is not available to collect, body hair may be collected. Body hair collection can be done from facial hair, arms, legs, chest or underarms. The detection window for body hair is estimated by some labs to be up to one year, but this has yet to be scientifically verified. A good rule of thumb, regardless of where the hair was collected from is that the detection window will reflect the past 90 days of use. There is no way to determine from test results when the drug use occurred, only that drug use did occur.

3. Types of Tests

The two primary types of hair follicle tests include standard hair testing and exposure testing.

For standard hair follicle tests, the number of drugs being tested for can be any number of combinations from 5 panel, 10 panel, 17 panel or more. Tests can also determine alcohol usage as well as drug usage. This type of testing only determines consumption/use of the substance being tested for.

For exposure tests, also known as environmental exposure tests, the hair strands are not washed prior to testing and the outer shell of the hair is tested for the presence of drugs. Exposure testing is most commonly combined with hair follicle testing which tests for exposure to drugs as well as ingestion of drugs. If exposure to drugs is detected, the test results will clearly indicate that the specimen tested positive for exposure to drugs.   Exposure to drugs does not indicate ingestion or use of drugs. It simply indicates that the person was in the presence of drug use. This is a popular test in child welfare situations and is used to determine if a child has been exposed to drug use in addition to the possibility of ingesting drugs. This test, offered by Carolina Testing is known as the Child Guard Test.

In closing, hair follicle testing offers a fool proof way to test for a wide range of testing possibilities over an extended period of time. Depending on your exact needs, the costs of hair follicle testing can typically range from $120 to over $500. Please contact your Carolina Testing professionals for assistance in choosing the right test for your needs.

Cocaine, derived from the coca plant is native to South America where many people chew the plant’s leaves to reduce pain, thirst, hunger, while giving a boost of energy. By the 1880s, doctors were studying cocaine as a miracle anesthetic for surgeries. It was also being studied for a variety of health conditions including anxiety and pain. By the turn of the 20th century, fatalities were associated with cocaine and an article in The New York Times by Dr. Edward Huntington Williams warned of the drug’s dangers, calling its effects “cocaine-craze insanity.” In 1914, Congress passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act which banned the non-medical use of cocaine in the United States. Today, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled drug with a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

 

After an analysis of more than ten million workplace drug tests, cocaine made headlines in this year’s Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) report because drug test results indicating cocaine use rose 12 percent in 2016. This increase reflects a seven-year high which has led to a trend of consecutive year increases of cocaine use in the workplace – both in federally mandated, safety-sensitive positions like transportation workers as well as general U.S. workers. Overall, cocaine drug use has fluctuated in the U.S. general workforce with its highest levels in 1998 and its lowest levels in 2012 according to the DTI.

 

Even more troubling is that positive drug tests indicating cocaine use are twice as high when the test was conducted in a post-accident scenario as compared to pre-employment tests.

While a positive test doesn’t necessarily prove drug use caused the accident, it does raise the question as to whether it played a role in the incident.

The most current findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health tell us:

  • An estimated 8.2 percent of adults (aged 26 or older), or 17.1 million people, currently use an illicit drug
  • 580,000 young adults (ages 18-25) and 1.2 million adults currently use cocaine
  • Approximately 31,000 adolescents (ages 12-17), 229,000 young adults, and 637,000 adults suffer from a cocaine use disorder, pointing to dependence and recurrent use that affects health and responsibilities at work, home, or school

 

Visit QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI for the full report and data.

 

To learn more about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online or call/text 843-972-3287.

 

The old adage, “time is money” has never been more true. It didn’t take long for the management team of a small asphalt company in South Carolina to realize how much money was literally waiting for them when they evaluated their current drug testing service provider. Having used a local urgent care clinic for their drug test collections for years, company representatives didn’t realize there were options available to them until they were approached by a representative from Carolina Testing based in Conway, SC.

The asphalt company maintained an average of 120 employees in 2014, all of whom were subject to pre-employment and random drug testing as well as other forms of drug testing as needed. After reviewing the previous year’s drug testing information, the company found that 58 random drug tests, 32 pre-employment drug screens and 17 other tests were completed at the local urgent care clinic, for a total of 107 drug tests in one year. Average wait time at this facility was 2 hours or more for an employee to be taken care of.

 

The results of their review were astounding:

  • Average wait time at clinic: 2 hours per employee
  • Average wage per employee tested: $19.50 per hour
  • 107 drug tests X 2 hours waiting = 214 hours

214 hours waiting X $19.50 per hour = $4173.00

Over $4,000.00 was paid out by the company to have employees sitting in a waiting room.

The math got even worse as they dug deeper. On average, the company bills out $54.00 per hour per employee to its customers. While employees were sitting in the waiting room, the company lost $11,556 in billable hours.

TOTAL MONEY PAID FOR EMPLOYEES TO WAIT :    $15,729.00

The Carolina Testing Difference

Four months after switching to Carolina Testing for their drug testing services in September 2015, the company ran the numbers again. Average wait time was found to be less than 10 minutes.

The math tells the rest of the story:

  • Average time at clinic: 5 minutes per employee
  • Average wage per employee tested: $19.50 per hour
  • 107 drug tests X 5 minutes waiting = 8.92 hours
  • 8.92 hours X $19.50 per hour = $173.94
  • 8.92 hours X $54.00 billable hours = $481.68

TOTAL SAVINGS:  $15,073.38

Please contact Carolina Testing for a free, no obligation evaluation of your company’s drug testing program including cost reporting, policy review and other savings opportunities available to your company.

No longer just a public safety issue, prescription drug misuse and abuse also weighs heavily on the workplace. According to The Clinical Journal of Pain, illegal use of prescription opioids cost the United States employers over $40 billion dollars in lost productivity in 2006 alone. Five drugs in particular, OxyContin®, oxycodone, hydrocodone, propoxyphene, and methadone, accounted for two-thirds of the total economic burden. As regulations tighten around these drugs and availability becomes more scarce, users are turning to other, more potent opioids such as fentanyl or street drugs like heroin.

One of the nation’s leading safety advocates, the National Safety Council (NSC), highlights issues in an effort to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. The NSC has highlighted prescription drug misuse as one of the critical safety issues facing our communities because of the alarming rise in addiction rates, ER visits, overdoses, and fatalities. With over 43,000 drug overdose fatalities per year in the United States, it is safe to say that we have reached epidemic levels.

Prescription Drug Addicts 40 Times More Likely To Become Addicted To Heroin

The NSC reported results from its recent survey, examining employers’ perceptions and experiences with prescription drugs. Because of misuse and abuse, employers face challenges with absenteeism, lower job performance, accidents and injuries, positive drug test results, co-workers using, borrowing, or selling prescription drugs at work, and a negative impact on employee morale. In addition, the NSC survey data shows:

  • 81 percent of companies lack a drug-free workplace policy
  • 76 percent of companies do not provide training to identify drug use/abuse
  • 41 percent of companies do not drug test for synthetic opioids such as fentanyl

Employers want to help employees, but less than 20 percent of employers responded that they were “extremely prepared” to deal with the misuse or abuse of prescription medications. Managers stated that they would like additional clarification regarding policy, benefits, insurance, treatment options, and simply identifying warning signs of potential issues.

How can the remaining 80 percent of employers get informed and gain confidence when facing this challenge? Experts suggest that companies add specialized workplace training for supervisors, implement drug testing programs, and strengthen their policies with more precise language about drug use without a prescription, employee impairment, and return-to-work protocols.

The NSC has amassed a comprehensive collection of resources such as drug fact sheets, strategy guides, videos, graphics, and survivor stories to bring greater awareness to the issue.

Download the kit for employers.

Can You Find Good Help?

As the economy continues to strengthen and grow and the memories of the Great Recession fade, challenges for growing businesses continue to mount. With unemployment rates steadily decreasing, the pool of good quality available workers also decreases. The most reliable applicants who are drug free with clean backgrounds are likely already employed leaving behind a pool of applicants that may be drug users and/or have undesirable background histories. Now, more than ever, good employee screening practices are critical to the success of your business. What is put at risk when a company elects to forgo drug screening and background checks as part of their employee application process? For starters, the company’s reputation, the safety of other employees, the well being of customers and your company’s financial stability are all at stake.

 

 

Reputation

Your company’s reputation is on the line every day. You have built your company and it’s reputation and know how damaging an unsatisfied customer can be. Your employees represent your company and their appearance, behavior and actions are a direct reflection of your company. Without proper screening tools in place and in use, placing a drug abuser or person with a criminal record in a position to reflect and represent your company is very likely. Do you really want your company represented by a drug abuser? A child molester? A convicted felon?

 

What about second chances? Some companies are looking toward the recently incarcerated and people with past criminal records (depending on the infraction) to fill employment needs. Knowing a person’s past and working with them and giving them that second chance may produce incredibly productive, loyal and thankful employees. Bringing someone on board that is currently testing positive for drug use, on the other hand, may not be the best option.

 

Safety & Well Being

Substance use and abuse in the workplace is the leading cause of accidents on the job. More often than not, the injured party is usually a fellow employee of the drug user instead of the drug user themselves. Creating a safe work environment for all employees creates an environment where everyone will be happier. If caring about your employee’s well being is not high on your priority list, how about your customers? Is you customer’s safety important to you. Should electrical systems be installed properly to avoid fires? Who really needs their customers to have correctly working brakes, right? The safety and well being of all of your employees and your customers should be a top priority – always.

 

Financial Stability

The bottom line is your bottom line. When accidents happen, it costs the company money – in insurance rate increases, time off, production losses, etc. When a user or abuser of drugs is working for you, it can cost you more than you can afford. Substance abusers (drug and alcohol) cost businesses billions of dollars every year!   As a result, companies can lose customers, experience decreased productivity, see higher rates of absenteeism and turnover costs, pay higher insurance and worker’s compensation premiums, the list goes on and on.

 

Conclusion

Just because you absolutely need to fill a position and hire someone, the last thing you want to do is skimp on the employee screening tools available to you such as background checks and drug screens. It would be more cost effective to leave the position unfilled than to allow someone to come on board that could potentially destroy your company.   You may want to consider raising your starting pay rates, offering more or better benefits, recruiting good workers from other companies and competitors. Be creative and make your company more attractive to potential employees – do everything you can to attract the best applicants and screen out the applicants that can harm your business and reputation. Companies that are doing these things are raising prices and cutting costs in other areas to be able to offer better wages and benefits and a more attractive work environment.

What is a MRO – Medical Review Officer?

MRO in the world of drug testing stands for Medical Review Officer. A MRO is a licensed physician who receives and reviews laboratory drug test results and evaluates those results while taking into consideration the donor’s medical history and prescription usage. These physicians are specially trained in substance abuse testing and provide protection for the donor to ensure that a positive drug test result is not due to legitimate prescription usage.

 

MRO review, while not always required, is very common in employment drug testing in order to protect both the employee and the employer. MRO review is less common when it comes to legal or court ordered testing.

The MRO Review Process

The MRO review process begins when the laboratory has completed the drug testing process and reports their findings (results) to the Medical Review Officer. The Medical Review Officer’s team examine the entire collection process to make sure the correct test panel was performed and that the correct procedures were followed by the collector to make sure that there is no evidence of tampering or foul play that could disqualify the results.

When a drug test is reported positive by the lab, the MRO will then contact the donor to determine if there is a legitimate medical explanation for the positive lab result.  The MRO will ask the donor specific, health history and prescription usage questions and seek to validate any history or prescription information provided by the donor. In some cases. prescription medications or medical treatments can cause a positive lab test result.  In these situations, the MRO will obtain verification of a valid prescription or recent medical treatment and then finalize the drug test result and report the result as negative or positive based on their findings.

Using an MRO to review and interpret the laboratory test results provides a professional, scientific, unbiased, third party review of the results. This protects the donor’s health and medical history from parties that do not have the right to that information and also protects the entire process to insure the integrity of the testing process from collection to the final result being reported.

MRO Review For Employment Drug Testing

MRO review is required for all Department of Transportation (DOT) regulated drug testing. For unregulated testing, or non-DOT testing, MRO review is not required, but is strongly recommended given the protections it offers both the employee and the employer.

MRO Review For Legal/Court Testing

MRO review for court ordered or legal forensic drug testing is not as common. The lack of MRO review provides the court the opportunity to see the raw test results direct from the laboratory. Without MRO review, the determination if a drug test is positive due to prescription medication, medical procedures or illegal use gets placed into the hands of lawyers, judges and juries.

 

To learn more about what drug testing services are best suited for your needs, please call or text 843-972-3287 or email us.

 

The most widely used and abused “drug” in American workplaces today might surprise you. A common definition of the word “drug” is “a habit-forming medicinal or illicit substance, especially a narcotic.” The only problem is that this “drug” or substance is 100% legal in the United States. In fact, the government makes money from the sale of this substance by taxing it and regulating it. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the number one used and abused substance in the workplace is alcohol.

 

Alcohol abusers number over 14 million in the United States alone and many of them are gainfully employed in our workplaces. Alcohol is responsible for a large number of workplace accidents and injuries. In addition, alcohol abuse in the workplace leads to billions of dollars in lost revenues for businesses due to absences, lower productivity, employee turnover, rising health costs and more.

 

Employers are aware of the costs borne by employees with alcohol problems and are implementing strict alcohol use guidelines in their substance free workplace programs. The main objective of these policies is to keep alcohol use out of the workplace through education, supervisor training and testing. Providing educational opportunities for employees on the effects of alcohol use and abuse in the workplace is the first step. Part of that education must include making employees aware of the resources available to them if they do have a problem. Employers should have literature and materials available to all employees about local resources or the company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Supervisors must be trained in identifying and observing signs of substance use on the job. They must be trained on how to confront the situation properly and how to get the employee tested if need be. The company’s substance free workplace program must include the ability to test employees for alcohol use in situations like reasonable suspicion, post-accident or random testing.

 

Regulated companies, such as those regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) must have a substance free workplace policy and program in place that includes drugs and alcohol. Non regulated companies are not required to have such policies and programs in place. However, more and more companies are seeing the value of a substance free workplace program for the health and safety of their employees as well as the cost savings. Making sure that these policies address the number one used and abused substance is critical to a solid substance free workplace program.

PARENT ALERT:  Check Your Mail – Pink Being Shipped To Homes Via US Postal Service

Pink

U-47700, also known as Pink, is a synthetically manufactured opiate that was first invented in the 1970’s and tested in the 80’s on animals. The drug, nicknamed “Pink” because of the pinkish color of the powdery substance and/or pill form has never been approved for medical use, but it has found its way onto the streets of New York and North Carolina in recent months as the nation’s heroin and opiate epidemic rages on. The pills found on the streets resemble manufactured oxycodone immediate-release tabs.   The problem, of course is that users, expecting oxycodone like results find themselves battling for their life as “Pink” belongs to a family of deadly synthetic opioids with up to eight times more potency than morphine.

Pink is being manufactured overseas and has been tracked to illicit labs located in China. This drug is toxic to the touch and has been fatal in small doses when ingested. Often found combined with other drugs such as heroin and fentanyl,  Pink is an internet search away and available for purchase online creating yet another chemically manufactured drug with truly deadly consequences for those looking to “experiment” with drug use. The US Drug Enforcement Administration has classified U-47700 as a schedule I drug determining the drug to have high potential for abuse and no approved medical use. Pink is just one of several manufactured, synthetic, chemical based drugs commonly referred to as “designer” drugs.  We prefer to call them “fatal” drugs.  Users experimenting with drugs for the first time can and do come into contact with these types of drugs and death is often the end result.

For more information on the scheduling of Pink, read the DEA news release.

Early intervention and testing is critical to helping those experimenting, using or abusing drugs. For more information or assistance, please call or text 843-972-3287 or contact us.