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Safety Workers Testing Positive For Drugs on the Rise

Posted on March 30, 2012 in Research & News

The number of safety workers that test positive for drugs is on the rise according to a recent report and the reasons behind this significant jump are discussed in a news article. Quest Diagnostics showed that 33 percent of “safety-sensitive workers” tested positive for cocaine in 2011.

Quest Diagnostics used data from a federally mandated program that uses drug testing prior to employment and then subjects workers to random drug and alcohol testing’s.

Bus drivers, rail operators, pilots and truck drivers classify as a safety-sensitive worker. These professionals are administered drug tests using a urine sample. Flight crews, ship captains, subway operators and air traffic controllers are also subject to such scrutiny. All of these are treated as such because the public’s safety is the most at risk with these professionals.

Data was collected from approximately 1.6 million drug tests performed last year. Approximately 12 million U.S. transportation workers are given drug tests. There was nearly a 26 percent increase in amphetamine usage.

The significant jumps come as the government began enforcing stricter drug testing regulations in October 2010. This included drug testing cutoff levels that were lower for certain substances like amphetamine and cocaine.

While there is no cut and dry answer to why the numbers are growing, experts can only look at the correlation of positive drug testing and the increase of prescription drug usage as well as stress. Researchers with the study noticed that more medicines used to treat ADHD contain amphetamines. With the new lower cutoff point, it’s no wonder more people are testing positive.

However, the research also shows that marijuana use might be on the decline. Transpiration workers that tested positive for marijuana were at some of the lowest levels seen in five years.

The good news is that compared to the general workforce population, safety-sensitive workers that test positive for drugs are significantly lower. Compared to the 1.7 percent of safety workers that test positive, there are an astonishing 4.1 percent of other workers failing their drug tests.

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