If you’ve had an accident at work, you may be required to pass an alcohol and drug test within a certain period of time after the accident. The article explains what you need to know.

It Doesn’t Matter What Happened

Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, your employer may require you to take an alcohol and drug screening test shortly after the accident. The most common method of testing used by employers is a urine test, which can measure both drugs and alcohol in a person’s system.
It doesn’t matter if you caused the accident or were the victim of the accident. Your employer wants to know if drugs or alcohol caused you to be impaired in some way that might have affected your reaction times, your motor coordination, or your mental judgement when the accident happened. If anyone else was involved in the accident, he or she will be asked to take a drug test as well.
This isn’t necessarily just to protect your employer, because showing that you were alcohol and drug free when an accident happened is a good way of proving that the accident was unavoidable.

All Urine Tests Are Not Created Equal

There are 2 different types of urine tests in use:

Standard Urine Testing

Standard drug testing can detect alcohol in the urine for up to 24 hours after consumption.

EtG Urine Testing

EtG urine testing is an extension of the standard urine test, but it measure Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in the body. EtG is a by-product of alcohol that can be detected as long as 80 hours after consumption. It’s also called the “80 hour test” or “5 day test.”
Either type of urine test can detect drugs in the urine for as long as 50 days (in the case of regular marijuana users), or for as little as 1 day (for drugs like Ecstasy or the occasional use of Marijuana) after use. Typically, employers screen for marijuana (THC), cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines.

Other Types Of Testing That May Be Performed

There are a few other types of drug and alcohol related tests that are used, though some are more commonly associated with DUI screenings, rather than workplace accidents. These include:

Breathalyzer Tests

A breathalyzer isn’t usually done at the workplace, because the equipment is very expensive and hard to maintain. It doesn’t give an exact measurement of the alcohol in someone’s body, but it gives a good estimation and can be used to indicate whether or not further testing is necessary. It does not test for drug use, and can only determine if alcohol was used within the previous few hours before testing.

Saliva Tests

A saliva tests is done by placing a test strip inside a person’s mouth and holding it there until it collects a certain amount of saliva. Saliva tests can usually indicate if a person has used alcohol within the last 24-48 hours, and can detect drug use for the last several days.

There Are False Positives

Drug tests produce false-positives in 5 to 10 percent of cases, which is why when urine tests are done, they are taken as a split sample. Whatever urine is collected is divided into two bottles, and only one is tested. That way, if the test comes back positive, urine taken at the same time as the first sample can be retested.

If your employer requires drug and alcohol testing after an accident, don’t feel that it’s simply an opportunity for the employer to try to accuse you of being at fault for the accident. Knowing that an employer will test for drugs and alcohol following an accident helps deter people from showing up to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which makes the workplace safer for everyone.