Cheating on employee drug tests is at an all-time high

The likelihood of workers testing positive, particularly for marijuana use, was particularly high for workers involved in workplace accidents.
Authorities warn that the trends point to a rising safety threat. | Photo: Shutterstock

Employees tried to cheat on workplace drug tests six times more often last year than they did in 2022, but the shenanigans failed to lower detected use from the highest level of the last 20 years, according to the testing service Quest Diagnostics.  

The percentage of tested workers found to be using drugs remained at 5.7%, the same rate clocked a year earlier, the lab operator found.

Yet the instances of tested workers being caught trying to submit someone else’s urine to the labs in place of their own soared by 633%.

“Some American workers are going to great lengths to attempt to subvert the drug testing process," Suhash Harwani, Quest’s senior director of workforce health solutions, said in a prepared statement. "Given the growing acceptance and use of some drugs, particularly marijuana, it may be unsurprising that some people feel it necessary to try and cheat a drug test.

Harwani warned that the stepped-up drug use poses a workplace safety threat that many users may not realize.

The incidences of workers testing positive for controlled substances after being involved in an on-the-job accident jumped 114.3% in 2023, according to Quest.

About 4.7% of the post-accident tests found proof of marijuana use.

Since 2019, the incidence of workers testing positive for weed consumption has jumped 45.2%, Quest reported. 

"As the prevalence of marijuana positives in the workforce rises, our concern grows," said Katie Mueller, who focuses on cannabis safety as a senior program manager for the National Safety Council. "The data show an increasing correlation between marijuana use and adverse workplace effects, prompting a call for heightened vigilance and comprehensive strategies to safeguard workplace safety and productivity."

Marijuana has been approved for recreational use by 24 states, and 38 have okayed the use of cannabis and its byproducts for medical purposes.

Quest’s analysis was based on nearly 10 million tests processed by the company’s labs.

The company did not break out the numbers for the restaurant industry.

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