Job Safety

May 18, 2005

Evasion of Urine Tests

I am following the news with fascination as the House Energy and Commerce Committee, under subcommittee Chairman, Ed Whitfield, R-KY, begins to discover the seedy side of drug testing.

The committee has found evidence from numerous witnesses that urine tests are widely evaded. Numerous web sites advertise a variety of devices that can be used to produce clean urine. The “Whizzinator”, in particular, has caught the public’s eye – and I will leave it to you to get the details. Several of the individuals who run these sites have been subpoenaed to testify but have taken the 5th.

Chairman Whitfield is preparing to introduce legislation to shut these sites down and generally stop the sale of things to help workers evade drug tests.

I have serious doubts that such legislation can possibly even reduce the use evasive techniques given the ingenuity of the American mind. The public would be better served if the committee would examine the whole structure of mandatory drug testing. As the requirement for drug urine testing has spread, a vast new industry has been built around it which now needs further government intervention to protect it. Not only does urine testing not work very well, it may actually make the workplace less safe.

Workplace drug testing is promoted as a means of making the workplace safer, but misses the issue almost completely. The real issue is that companies think they are reducing impairment by urine testing when they should be screening for actual impairment from fatigue, prescription drugs, etc. Fatigue is more common than drug impairment but is largely ignored. Meanwhile accidents from impairment, completely unrelated to drug use, continue to occur.