Testing The Drug Testers 

Testing The Drug Testers 
Posted by FoM on December 28, 2000 at 12:44:55 PT
Source: Fresno Bee
Under federal law, transportation workers in sensitive safety-related jobs -- truck and bus drivers, airline pilots, flight attendants, ship captains and train crews -- are subject to periodic drug tests. If the workers test positive for one of five illegal substances (cocaine, heroin, PCP, amphetamines or marijuana), they can be fired.In fairness, workers are entitled to an appeal and a retest of their specimen at a new lab. 
But until this week, appeals and retests have not been available to transportation workers when evidence showed the bodily fluid sample they provided for testing, usually urine, had been tampered with.That could happen when the sample was diluted, or a substance added to mask the presence of illegal drugs, or another person's specimen was substituted. These "validity tests" are optional now under federal law but many transportation companies use them, and the federal government is seeking to make validity testing mandatory as early as next year.After validity tests indicated that their specimens had been adulterated, four flight attendants and a pilot were fired last year by Delta Airlines. The workers disputed the results and this year, Delta reinstated them because the drug-testing lab the airline used was found to have violated federal testing procedures and then lied about it.In the wake of that incident, the government inspected 66 labs across the country that perform validity tests. As a result of those reviews, the laboratories were ordered to throw out the results of faulty validity tests for 250 to 300 workers.Also last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater announced new rules, extending appeal rights and the option for retest to workers who flunk validity tests. That is both fair and necessary but may not go far enough. According to critics of testing procedures, false signs of tampering can show up for a number of innocent reasons. If a worker falls below a certain weight, suffers from kidney disease or even drinks lots of water before a sample is taken, the testing results may be skewed.Further, they complain that the validity retesting proposed by the Department of Transportation is merely new screening, not the more precision testing that would be required if a worker tested positive for drugs.Validity testing is essential. According to Department of Transportation officials, in 1999, some 18,000 urine samples taken from workers in sensitive safety-related transportation jobs or applicants for those jobs showed signs of adulteration. The Internet is full of Web sites that offer drug-abusing workers subject to testing advice on ways to mask the presence of drugs.Still, validity tests are not foolproof. The 250 to 300 faulty tests ordered thrown out by the government recently prove that. Inaccurate testing can cost an innocent person his livelihood. The government ought to take reasonable steps to ensure that airline pilots, truck drivers, train engineers and others in safety-related transportation jobs are drug free. At the same time, those workers deserve a testing system that is as accurate as possible, and the right to appeal when they think mistakes have been made. Note: Faulty Test Results Prove Need For Worker Safeguards.Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)Published: December 28, 2000Copyright: 2000 The Fresno BeeContact: letters fresnobee.comWebsite: Articles:U.S. Issues New Rules On Drug-Test Accuracy New Drug Test Rules To Protect Workers Rights Drug Testing Archives
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on December 29, 2000 at 05:58:53 PT:
One small problem with this
FedRegs, I do not take issue with the idea of testing after an accident takes place, but that testing should center around detecting immediate *impairment*. The article does not make that distiction, and it should. But let me ask you something, if I may?If an elected official, with the proposal and lobbying for legislation that can with the stroke of a pen, cause a huge amount of misery to take place, wouldn't said pol qualify as a 'federally regulated, safety sensitive employee'? They might not create an immediately obvious danger to the public weal, such as a drunken forklift operator on a crowded, noisy factory might, but what they do can cause an inordinate amount of suffering nonetheless, and to an *entire country*. Surely, if they are *my* Federal employees (we elected them, remember?) and if they can adversly affect an entire nation through poor performance of their jobs, might we not suspect that the root of this poor performance may be linked with something they imbibed or inhaled? Wouldn't that be grounds for testing *them*? The paucity of evidence regarding 'valid' suspicion should be the same for them as it is for the rest of us; all any corporation needs *is* suspicion. No obvious evidence (empty liquor bottles, coke spoons, 'roaches', etc.) need be in plain sight to instigate this warrantless search. Improper social behavior, poor coordination, disjuct speech might all be indicative of behavior that indicates substance the ONDCP is forever reminding us to monitor our children for.SO, WHY AREN'T THE POLS SUBJECT TO THE SAME LAWS THE POLS MAKE FOR US?Simply this: they make themselves *exempt* from the very laws they saddle the rest of the country with. With a very specious argumant that because of their lofty positions, they are above reproach...despite the myriad scandals that have poured down the steps of Congress and the White House like toilet overflow.Congress is exempt from testing. So is the Office of the President. Our thankfully soon to be ex-Commander in Chief has never taken the urine test that is demanded by the DoD of all persons privy to classified information. Yet all these paragons of civic virtue who are so quick to marginalize our rights with this legislation claim to be exempt from it's worst aspects. It is not merely the idea of pre-employment drug testing that is wrong; the very *laws, themselves* are promulgated by those who do not abide by them. Yet they demand that we do."Some animals are more equal that others", perhaps?
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Comment #4 posted by dddd on December 29, 2000 at 05:46:51 PT
the good ol' boys
"I am not saying that all of these people are consciously aware that they are mining a vein of fear at the expense of the American public, but the possibility certainly exists.'" I think you are being a bit too polite,and considerate,in the delicate way you put this. It's way beyond a possibility that they know they hit the motherlode in the fear mine.It doesnt take long for a politician to realize that the lobbyists,and their employers are in a much more lucrative line of work.After being in the Senate,or Congress for a term or two,you know the ropes.After you have retired from office,you are a prime commodity to get stuff done. The drug testing game is nickle and dime compared to the big money in the prison/law enforcement/military deals that an ex-official can do. This situation has always infuriated me.There used to be some laws that forbid,or restricted special interest influencing concerning the government.I think they passed a bill that abolished all those laws.They snuck it into a bill that passed was the last time they voted themselves a pay raise.. If you trace the careers,and activities of the a few of these ex-pols,you will be shocked...I will attempt to provide some links shortly..............dddd 
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Comment #3 posted by Fed Regs on December 29, 2000 at 05:08:26 PT
Before you criticize, I suggest you read the rules. Alcohol testing is in fact required of all federally-regulated safety-sensitive employees, and has been since January 1, 1995. The required tests are random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, return to duty, and post-violation follow-up.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on December 29, 2000 at 04:49:49 PT
An excellent commentary on the method behind
the testing industry's seeming insanity:'s a little taste:'THE SELLING OF DRUG TESTING AND CONFLICTS OF INTERESTDrug testing is sold to employers the same way a grocer might sell you a can of anchovies. It is advertised, packaged, and delivered for profit[4][13][14]. In order to get an employer to buy drug testing, various arguments are often made to make drug testing look like a good idea[4][5]. We have already seen how these arguments sometimes use government statistics. Incentives are sometimes offered to help the sale. These are usually arranged by the government or large, established organizations. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse established a toll- free help line to assist employers in establishing work-place drug testing programs.Carlton Turner was once the United States' drug czar (under Reagan.) After this, he became a very rich man as an advisor for drug testing companies. His partner, Peter Bensinger is a former head of the National Institute on Drug Awareness. Another partner was Robert Dupont, also a former NIDA director. Former White House drug advisor Donald MacDonald now owns Employee Health Programs, which contracts MROs to drug testing programs.It is easy to see how the connections and authority which these people have held could have been used in self interest. This presents an ethical dilemma. It is very possible for such power to be abused. I am not saying that all of these people are consciously aware that they are mining a vein of fear at the expense of the American public, but the possibility certainly exists.'Like I say, follow the money.(The ethics of Carlton Turner, however, are most definitely poor. In 1986 he was forced to resign from his post in the Reagan Administration. Before he became U.S. Drug Czar, he tried to sell fake `paraquat detectors' to marijuana smokers through the magazine High Times, which could have injured or killed many people. Before this, he was purposefully obstructive in his role as the director of the University of Mississippi Marijuana Research Program, denying many sick individuals good medicine. In fact, it was Carlton Turner who started the unsubstantiated rumor -- an ``Urban Legend'' -- that marijuana made your immune system break down, when he stated in public addresses that smoking marijuana caused homosexuality *and* AIDS[16].)
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Comment #1 posted by legalizeit on December 29, 2000 at 00:13:30 PT
This is enough to keep me from getting such a job
It is really sad when an otherwise stellar worker can get his whole livelihood cut off because of some stupid, invasive, inaccurate test which can be completely thrown off just because someone had "too much" water to drink (which is a recommendation for good health)!If the tests were smart enough to detect current impairment, that might inject a bit of fairness into all this, but they are nowhere near this level of testing, and still ruin people's lives because they may have had a phattie a couple of weeks ago on their owh time!>truck and bus drivers, airline pilots, flight attendants, ship captains and train crews -- are subject to periodic drug testsOf course, "drugs" never means alcohol. The most abused drug is conspicuously absent from Uncle Sam's five tested-for substances. Remember that the Exxon Valdez disaster was at least partly caused by the captain being soused at the time.>The Internet is full of Web sites that offer drug-abusing workers subject to testing advice on ways to mask the presence of drugsNote the usual use=abuse nonsense.>That is both fair and necessary"Drug" testing, or any of the many needless complications it causes, is neither fair nor necessary.If the government insists on invading people's privacy to further its pointless war on marijuana, it should at least develop and monitor testing that is completely fair, reasonably accurate, is effective whether or not a sample is diluted, and tests for current, not past, impairment.
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