Reasonable suspicion drug testing is a critical safety measure.

Workforce Drug Test Positivity Rate Up, Quest Diagnostics Reports

This is the first time in more than a decade that it has increased, according to the company's Drug Testing Index™ analysis of 8.5 million workplace drug tests. The data were released Sept. 8.

The percentage of positive drug tests among American workers has risen for the first time in more than a decade, Quest Diagnostics reported Sept. 8. The company's analysis of 8.5 million urine, oral fluid, and hair workplace drug test results, the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, showed that the positivity rate for 7.6 million urine drug tests in the combined U.S. workforce increased to 3.7 percent in 2013, up from to 3.5 percent in 2012. The increase of 5.7 percent year-over-year is the first time the rate for combined national workplace urine drug tests has increased since 2003; Quest Diagnostics has analyzed annual workplace drug testing data since 1988.

Marijuana is the most commonly detected illegal drug in urine tests, and the company's report also showed double-digit positivity rate increases for Colorado and Washington state, the two states that have legalized recreational marijuana use. Marijuana positivity in the combined U.S. workforce increased by 6.2 percent, to 1.7 percent in 2013 compared to 1.6 percent in 2012; in the safety-sensitive workforce, marijuana positivity increased 5.6 percent (0.67 percent in 2013 vs. 0.63 percent in 2012). But urine drug test data for the combined U.S. workforce from Colorado and Washington showed their marijuana positivity rates increased by 20 and 23 percent, respectively, in the general workforce between 2012 and 2013, compared to the 5 percent average increase among the U.S. general workforce in all 50 states. Significantly, the report shows that both experienced dramatic increases in marijuana positivity rates prior to legalization at the end of 2012: From 2009 to 2010, Colorado experienced a 22 percent increase and Washington a 10 percent decline in positivity. From 2011 to 2012, Colorado experienced a 3 percent increase and Washington an 8 percent increase in positivity.

"Washington and Colorado are believed by many to foreshadow future trends in 'recreational' marijuana use. While Quest's Drug Testing Index shows dramatic spikes in marijuana positivity rates over the past year, a longer view of the data suggests a more complex picture," said Dr. Barry Sample, director, science and technology, for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. "It is possible that relaxed societal views of marijuana use in those two states, relative to others, may in part be responsible for the recent increase in positivity rates. Yet this doesn't explain why both states also experienced steep rises – and declines – in positivity in recent years. We will be very interested to see how our data evolves over the next year or two in these two states relative to those that have not legalized so-called 'recreational' marijuana."

The 2013 Drug Testing Index analyzed urine, oral fluid, and hair drug tests performed by Quest Diagnostics workplace drug testing laboratories across the United States. Test results are analyzed according to three categories of workers: employees with private companies (U.S. general workforce); employees subject to federal drug testing rules, including safety-sensitive truck drivers, train operators, airline, and nuclear power plant workers (federally mandated safety-sensitive workers); and a combination of both groups (combined U.S. workforce).

"After years of declines, the prevalence of positive workforce drug tests is increasing," said Sample. "This increase indicates that employers should be aware of the potential for drug use by their workers and the risk that represents for the health and safety of their employees and the public. What we do know is that workforce positivity for marijuana is definitely on the rise across the United States. It is important for people to remember that while some states have legalized marijuana, the federal government has not. Employers generally have the authority to restrict the 'recreational' use of marijuana by employees and impose sanctions, including termination, on employees with positive drug tests in all 50 states."

For more information about the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, visit www.QuestDiagnostics.com/DTI.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Safety Management Software - Free Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Software’s comprehensive suite of modules help organizations to record and manage incidents, inspections, hazards, behavior based safety observations, and much more. Improve safety with an easy to use tool for tracking, notifying and reporting on key safety data.

  • Create Flexible Safety Dashboards

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations allows you to easily create and view safety KPIs to help you make informed business decisions. Our best of breed default indicators can also save you valuable time and effort in monitoring safety metrics.

  • Schedule and Record Observations

    IndustrySafe's mobile app allows managers, supervisors, and employees to conduct observations on employees involved in safety critical behavior on the go, with or without an internet connection. IndustrySafe’s pre-built BBS checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • The 4 Stages of an Incident Investigation

    So, your workplace has just experienced an incident resulting in the injury or illness of a worker. Now what? OSHA recommends that you conduct investigations of workplace incidents using a four-step system.

  • Why Is Near Miss Reporting Important?

    A near miss is an accident that's waiting to happen. Learn how to investigate these close calls and prevent more serious incidents from occurring in the future.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

Free Whitepaper

Stand Your Ground: A Guide to Slip Resistance in Industrial Safety Footwear

This white paper helps to clarify this complexity, so you can better navigate the standards and better ensure the safety of your employees.

Download Now →

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2019

    October 2019

    Featuring:

    • WINTER HAZARDS
      Preparing for Old Man Winter's Arrival
    • CONSTRUCTION
      Staying Safe in the Trenches
    • INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE
      Setting a Higher Standard: The Limitations of Regulatory Limits
    • ELECTRICAL SAFETY
      Five Important Things to Know About Arc Flash PPE Programs
    View This Issue