The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug Testing

The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug Testing

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created hesitation as far as workplace drug testing is concerned, it can still be done in a safe and effective manner.

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for what could be the greatest economic collapse of all time. Since March 1, 2020, thousands of businesses have been forced to close their doors—at least temporarily—causing literally millions of Americans to become unemployed. Now, over half a year later, employers are anxious to reopen their businesses and those who lost jobs are eager to find employment and get back to work.

While states are taking plans to reopen at different speeds, one constant remains—the question of workplace drug testing and safety during the pandemic. This article will give an overview of the general impact of COVID-19 on the industry, alternative testing methods during the pandemic and best practices for returning to work.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug Testing

A recent survey performed by the Current Consulting Group (CCG) found that since the start of the pandemic, 21 percent of employers have reported a drop of 61 percent or more in the number of drug tests that they perform on employees. This could be due to a variety of reasons—a drop in the number of individuals being tested due to high unemployment rates, more employees working from home and general concern about workplace drug testing safety and COVID-19 precautions, to name a few.

The CDC has issued a myriad of guidelines and recommendations pertaining to workplace safety during the pandemic. The CDC advises employers to:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Consider conducting daily in-person health checks such as symptom and/or temperature screening
  • Identify how and where employees may be exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace
  • Separate sick employees
  • Take action based on suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19 infections
  • Educate employees about protective steps to take at work and home
  • Implement flexible sick leave policies and practices
  • Protect higher risk employees
  • Communicate workplace policies clearly and effectively
  • Have a plan should absenteeism spike
  • Establish social distancing policies and practices
  • Improve building ventilation systems
  • Provide individuals with supplies to maintain clean hands and cover coughs and sneezes
  • Perform routine cleaning in the workplace
  • Perform enhanced cleaning after individuals with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 cases are in the workplace
  • Limit travel
  • Minimize risks when planning meetings and gatherings 

This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - March 2021

    March 2021


      The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug Testing
      Preparing for Unpredictable Spring Weather
      Building a Comprehensive Floor Safety Strategy
      Gas Hazards and the COVID-19 Vaccine
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