More Ohio companies that never tested employees for drugs before are now.

7:53 AM, Sep 24, 2013   |    comments
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  • AVON LAKE -- Drug testing is not just for professional athletes. It is part of the job and required by law in many industries.

    But more Ohio companies that never tested employees for drugs before are doing so now.

    "It can be anything from landscaping to attorneys, to accountants. Certainly there is a whole broad range," says Karen Kitchen.

    Kitchen and her husband own and operate USA Mobile Drug Testing of Cleveland.

    The company's list of clients ranges from tree removal companies and day care facilities to schools and house cleaning services.

    Drug testing services aren't new.

    But Kitchen and her husband started the first and only 24/7 mobile compliance service in Northeast Ohio.

    The idea appealed to employers for numerous reasons. For Ron Guenther of Chemtron Corp. in Avon Lake, it was convenience.

    "Response time, liability, rapid results, so we were able to get a one-stop shop," Guenther says, of his decision to go with USAMDT.

    Traditionally, employees would travel to a drug testing lab. That meant lost work time and liability if the employee was in an accident on their way to or from the testing site. Mobile testing also offers the element of surprise for companies like Chemtron who conduct random drug tests.

    "It provides the element of surprise. The employee doesn't know that we are coming," says Kitchen. Only one predetermined person on staff will know when testing is to occur. Guenther likes it that way.

    "We don't want to give advance notice. If someone is going to steal from you, they are not going to give warning. If someone is going to be drug tested, I would rather they admit that they are positive so that we can get them into a program and help rehab them before I spend the cost and find out they are and have to deal with it later," says Guenther.

    "As soon as they arrive for testing, our employee is brought into a room so they don't have the time or ability to use a masking agent," Guenther says.

    Chemtron is an environmental services provider and because employees handle hazardous materials they are required by law to drug test.

    "Having an employee here who wants to be high; we just can't afford it," Guenther says, before adding that of Chemtron's roughly 140 employees, he believes "99.9 percent" are clean.

    Kitchen admits her business has been impacted by Northeast Ohio's painkiller epidemic.

    "The opiate problem has become more pervasive here, particularly in the Cleveland area. So we are seeing a lot more of our clients test for the 10 panel which includes opiates as well as sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications," Kitchen explains.

    In addition to testing, the company also helps train supervisors to spot signs of drug abuse, how to have a conversation with the employee and how to comply with company's drug policy. This is where mobile testing can offer additional benefits, Kitchen points out.

    "It's a big safety hazard for a supervisor to get in a car with a person and drive them to a facility. If you can keep them here in a controlled environment, you don't have the extended liability of someone getting in the car with them and who knows what that reaction might be," Kitchen explains.

    Ohio has a drug-free workplace program regulating testing. Employers who drug test must have employee assistance program resources, employee education and supervisor training.

    It's also important to note that employers who establish drug testing programs can qualify for a discount on their workers' compensation insurance premiums.

    However, they must follow state's rules to get their discount.

    Rules for Job Applicants in Ohio: Ohio employers are allowed to drug test applicants and new hires.

    Rules for Employees in Ohio: Ohio employers are authorized to drug test employees in a number of circumstances, including post-workplace accident, reasonable suspicion and after an employee returns to work following a positive test.

    The increase in workplace drug testing has not gone unnoticed. The American Civil Liberties Union Law Reform Project is working to halt the expansion of random testing programs, particularly in the workplace.

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