Top 5 Drug Testing Mistakes

A drug testing policy is a crucial tool for pre-employment screening and preventing potential hazards in the workplace. It can create a safer work environment by preventing accidents, improving employee productivity, and even helping companies avoid litigation due to injuries in the workplace.

Without even realizing it, companies regularly make quite a few mistakes regarding drug testing. What potential drug testing mistakes should you be aware of to keep your employees safe and create a healthy work environment? Let's take a look at common drug testing mistakes.

Diana Vaculová
Published on

Ordering a drug panel that does not cover enough substances

Nowadays, many employers require employee drug testing. Some employers must drug test their employees because of federal regulations like those by the FMCSA. On the other hand, some employers drug test to take advantage of incentives or as an additional precaution to keep their employees out of harm’s way. Every company that wants to create a safe, productive work environment should conduct drug testing.

The common problem is that many companies do not know which drug panel they should use, and sometimes they order tests that do not cover enough substances. Most companies standardly use 5,10, or 12-panel urine tests, but some prefer using hair testing because it ensures a longer window of detection for a drug.

Not ordering from SAMHSA-certified labs

When choosing a lab from which you will order a drug test, make sure it is a SAMHSA-certified lab. The reason is that SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration) and HHS (Health and Human Services) recognize certain clinical facilities that administer drug screening procedures for employment purposes. These facilities are considered the most reliable, and the most certified experts will administer drug tests to the highest standards for employees and potential employees.

Choosing the wrong specimen type

There are six basic drug screenings: hair, saliva, urine, blood, breathalyzers, and sweat. Most companies usually use urine specimen testing because it is highly accurate, affordable, and easy to administer. Sometimes, companies choose to use hair specimens because it detects drug use between 5 to 90 days, showing a much wider window of substance use than urine testing, which detects drugs usually for about a week.

Oral fluid drug testing does not test for as many different drugs. Blood drug testing is quite costly, has a smaller detection window, and is the most intrusive method.

Not having drug and alcohol testing policies

To build a successful business that provides a safe environment for its employees, you should consider setting up drug and alcohol testing policies within your company.

Some companies state briefly that the company reserves the right to conduct alcohol or a drug test if necessary, but this is too vague and can expose your company to disputes. Employers should define rules regarding how and when you will conduct drug tests: if there is a specific schedule, if the testing will be random, etc. Each company is different, so you should have a particular set of rules that fits your needs and provide a copy of this policy to all new employees.

Failing to comply with drug testing laws

Drug testing for employees and pre-employment drug testing laws vary from state to state. Varying legislation makes it essential to understand the laws in your area and know the differences when hiring somebody across state lines.

Health Street offers an overview of drug testing laws in each state that can help you get oriented to different rules and regulations. When you are ready to schedule, Health Street provides drug testing services in addition to background checks, resume verifications, and even occupational health tests for the industries that need them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most accurate form of drug testing?

Urine and hair testing methods are accurate and reliable because they can pick up many different drugs. These methods can even pick up prescription medications, which are often missed during oral testing.

What is drug testing in the workplace?

Employment drug testing is when an employer has a specimen from an employee screened for drugs. The employer can choose urine, hair, saliva, or blood as samples to detect drug use. If you are currently looking for a job, there is a high chance your prospective employer will require testing as a part of the hiring process.

What type of drug test do most employers use?

Employers often use urine drug screens because they are reliable, accurate, easy to administer, and affordable.

Could anything prevent me from conducting employee drug testing?

Each state’s laws may vary regarding drug testing. Before implementing a drug testing program, be sure to check all state laws that may apply to your area.


Overview of drug and alcohol rules for employers. FMCSA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2022, from
List of HHS Certified Laboratories June 2022 – (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2022, from
Certified lab list. SAMHSA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2022, from



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Drug Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative drug testing stories.