Online Training for On-Site Testing

Use of illegal drugs is an expensive problem in many ways for employers. Testing has been embraced by 80 percent nationwide.

WHAT can a company do to help prevent theft, accidents, high health care costs, and lost productivity caused by sick leave and employee absences? For many, the answer is as simple as buying some plastic cups.

The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that an estimated 15.9 million Americans age 12 or over were current illicit drug users in 2001. Unfortunately for workers and managers alike, the survey found 70 percent of Americans who engage in illicit drug use are employed.

The Department of Labor estimates on-the-job substance abuse costs U.S. employers more than $100 million per year. In addition to lost productivity and theft, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says employed drug abusers cost their employers about twice as much in medical and worker's compensation claims as do their drug-free co-workers.

According to industry sources, about 50 million drug tests are performed each year nationwide, with more than 80 percent of companies testing employees. Fortunately for employers, many choices are available to test potential and current employees for use of drugs in the workplace.

There is now a broad range of media from which to choose, including urine, hair, saliva, sweat, and blood. While these tests were traditionally performed at the laboratory level only, new technology has opened the doors to on-site, or point of collection, testing. This method has grown in popularity as employers demand faster information to expedite hiring and as regulatory acceptance increased at state and federal levels.

With drug testing accounting for an estimated $2 billion market, employers can easily be lost in a sea of various media, products, and manufacturers. Choosing a testing product is only the first step. The reliability of an on-site test depends not only on the product itself, but also on the administrator's understanding of the product and the medium's limitations. It sounds confusing, but don't give up just yet.

AMBC's Online Training
In response to customer requests, American Bio Medica Corp. (ABMC) has launched an online training and certification course designed to help drug testing program administrators further their understanding of its products. Training and certification related to the company's Rapid Drug Screen® and Rapid One® are available at www.abmc.com/training. Upon accessing the site, users are asked to register and create a password, which allows any-time access to the training information and previous certification test results.

The training module is a self-paced presentation with a table of contents that allows the user to easily move back and forth between sections. Clear photographs and illustrations accompany the information presented in the module. Beginning with an explanation of the Rapid Drug Screen®'s intended use, the program informs users of the up to nine drugs the product can detect and at what concentrations. The module explains each of the kit's contents along with precautions to take to ensure the most accurate test results, including proper handling and product storage procedures.

The training information provides a step-by-step guide to specimen collection, including verifying the donor's identity, preventing donor contamination/tampering, and checking for correct specimen temperature. Step-by-step information for use of the Rapid Drug Screen® and Rapid One® single dipstick test, along with an alternate low-volume test method, also is provided.

The module's section on interpreting test results provides clear information on when a test can be read and how to read and interpret the results. Through the use of text and photographs, this section tell an administrator which results would render a test invalid and how long test results will remain stable.

American Bio Medica Corp. plans to release online training modules for its OralStat® and Rapid TecTM

A Little Proof
After a user completes AMBC's training module, he has the option of taking a 14-question certification test. Consisting of multiple-choice questions, the test covers the topics discussed throughout the training module, with an emphasis on interpreting results.

Users can take the test as many times as needed to feel they've mastered the concepts presented. After receiving a score of 100 percent or higher, the program is supposed to create a personalized certificate of training. The certificate is in .pdf format and can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader®, available free for download at www.adobe.com.

For some reason my certificate was not personalized, but instead included blank spaces for me to write in my name and the date. That's unfortunate; the certificate becomes less valuable when someone can make copies and simply fill in the blanks. A whole office could claim to be "certified," assuming the individuals who work there can live with themselves for cheating on a test they can take as many times as they want!

Beneficial for Employees, Too
Much of the information presented in AMBC's online training and certification module is included in the instructions and printed materials that accompany the product. The online version is readily accessible, however, and won't be lost--as its hard-copy counterpart can be.

The program is not only an excellent resource/training tool for employers and drug test administrators. It also offers employees a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of a test that can determine their future with the company that is testing them.

This article originally appeared in the February 2003 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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