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Drug Testing News

Businesses upgrade to more efficient drug-testing method



New technology allows for easier processing, quicker retrieval of results
Published on Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Tara Patty
Kansas State Collegian

Businesses all over the country have turned to body-fluid analysis to test potential employees for illegal drug use, and the process is becoming easier and cheaper than ever.
Wanda Coleman, assistant manager of Dillons West, said her store no longer uses traditional urine testing. Instead, she said, they test the saliva of job applicants.

Coleman said she has to ensure the person being tested hasn't had a mint or any other candy in their mouth within 10 minutes of the test.

"It's kind of like a toothbrush. You stick it in their mouth for two minutes, and it gathers saliva," she said.

Aaron Smith, senior in digital art, said he thinks illegal drug screening is necessary for employers. He has undergone several illegal drug screenings for employment purposes.

Employers may encounter problems, Smith said, if their employees call in sick or don't come to work because of illegal drug use. He said he would always be willing to cooperate with employers when it comes to drug screening.

Coleman said Dillons administers illegal drug screening because of corporate policy. After the specimen is collected, she said, the store then sends it in for testing and receives results back within four days. This is an improvement over the traditional urine testing the store used to do, she said.

Most companies that analyze these samples are located on the east coast, she said. The company the store uses for the saliva tests is located in Kansas. Dillons has been administering the saliva test for the last 18 months, she said.

All potential employees take the test before they can be hired. However, hired employees undergo additional testing only if they are involved in an on-the-job accident.

"I think it's a good thing to use drug testing," Coleman said. "We are big on safety -- you don't want someone to be smoking pot and then coming to work and being clumsy."

Randy Wilkinson, human relations specialist at Sears in Manhattan Town Center, said Sears also uses illegal drug screening as a part of the hiring process. The store uses a new local company that offers results instantaneously, compared to the two-week wait with other companies.

Wilkinson describes the new test as similar to a pregnancy test. Once the specimen is taken, the test administrators stick an indicator into the urine to see if there are traces of THC in the sample.

Sears employees are tested before they are hired or in case of an accident or suspicion of drug use.

"There is actually a correlation between drugs and theft," Wilkinson said.

The screening is administered within 24 hours of an employee's hiring, he said. This helps cut down on the possibility of someone circumventing the test if they have been using controlled substances.

The test is given in a secure environment, he said. If someone does test positive on the initial screening, the specimen is sent in for an actual analysis. In these cases, a medical examiner will call the individual to see if he or she is taking any prescription drugs that may have shown up on the test.

The same course of action is used with the saliva testing. Coleman said the medical examiner investigates any positive result before notifying the Dillons store of any problems with the testing.

"We don't want to accuse someone of being a drug user if they aren't," she said.