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10 Random Things About Random Testing

(September 2022) Random testing seems easy enough to implement, right? It definitely can be, but there’s a lot to think about to make sure it truly stays random. From understanding probability to making sure you’re testing what you should be testing for, here are 10 random things about random testing to help better understand the process and expectations:

  1. Selections are computer generated. Best-practice random testing pools, and the ones Working Partners® endorses, are managed by a computer-based program that randomly selects names. Once a name is selected and the person is tested, their name goes back into the pool to potentially be drawn again. Everyone, every time, has a statistically equal chance of being tested.
  2. The size of the pool doesn’t impact probability. The probability of an employee getting tested doesn’t change based on the size of the random pool. This is an important point if you have the option (with your drug testing vendor) of having a company-specific random pool or putting your employees into a larger pool with employees from other companies. If you decide to join a larger pool, it is possible that you might go for a period without an employee being selected. But the employees’ probability of being selected remains the same.
  3. It’s not an excuse to test for reasonable suspicion. It’s not random (or prudent) if you hand-pick an employee – who you think is misusing drugs – and tell them they were selected for a “random” test. If you have real suspicion that an employee is misusing a substance, go through the steps to do a real reasonable suspicion test. That’s what reasonable suspicion tests are designed for. Don’t ruin the integrity of your random pool.
  4. Previous negative tests don’t cancel out the need to complete the current random test. If a name is selected for a random test and that person recently submitted a negative result on a different application of testing (e.g., new hire, post-accident), send them anyway. That previous test has no connection to your random testing procedures. It may seem like overkill, but it’s random. When their name’s selected, they should go for the test. Notably, you may choose to wait until later in the month or quarter to send that employee. The test doesn’t have to occur the same day the name is pulled.
  5. Testing should happen immediately, without notice. When an employee is told they need to submit to a random test, they should go immediately to the testing facility and then return to work. No notice should be given ahead of time. Talk with the employee’s supervisor to arrange for a good day within the random period to send the employee for the test and consider sending them first thing in the morning to reduce delays or the employee needing to leave for personal responsibilities (e.g., picking up kids from school at the end of the day).
  6. Employees can drive themselves. It is okay for the employee to drive themselves for a random test. To reduce concerns or opportunities for the employee to “cheat” the test, you should be mindful of the amount of time the employee was gone, then follow up on any discrepancies immediately. For example, you called the collection facility before sending the employee and learned there was no wait. The facility is 15 minutes away from the shop, but the employee took two hours to complete the test. Calling the collection facility to determine the employee’s arrival time and if there were any issues would help understand the time discrepancy.
  7. They get paid to go. Because this test is a job requirement and not related to a policy violation, the employee should remain on the clock while going for, completing and returning from the test. And since there’s no policy violation (like with reasonable suspicion), the employee can also continue working while waiting for the results.
  8. A confession changes things. If the employee confesses that their test may be positive when you tell them they’ve been selected for a random test, you should continue with the random test (since you’re likely meeting requirements for an authority). But you may want to consider utilizing protocols you have for sending someone for a reasonable suspicion test (i.e., transporting them to the collection facility, remaining off the job until results are received).
  9. Separate pools for the DOT. If you randomly test drivers for the Department of Transportation (DOT) you should keep those drivers in a separate pool from your non-DOT random pool. DOT requirements are very strict and do not allow putting employees in your CDL pool that don’t belong there.
  10. Non-DOT random tests are only for drugs. As a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an alcohol test is now considered a medical exam., With that, it may not be prudent to random test your employees for alcohol. However, DOT does require that mandated employees be subject to random alcohol testing, which means if their name is pulled, they will be directed to take a urine drug test, breath alcohol test or both. You will be notified of the type of test required when you’re sent the selected name for random testing.

By following these protocols, you can effectively operate a best-practice random testing pool. If you’d like to talk about your random testing process or other types of proactive testing, please reach out to us.