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Smoke out users who try to beat your drug tests

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Issue: Cheap new products make it easier to thwart workplace drug tests.

Risks: You could inadvertently be adding more substance abusers to the payroll.

Action: Thwart drug-test cheaters with the following tips, including your lab for 'specimen validity testing.'

Drug users flock to smaller employers because they know that most don't test for drugs. But as more small organizations wise up and start testing, they face another hurdle: cheap new products (typically sold online) that make it easier for people to beat drug tests.

Examples: Oxidizing agents that chemically alter or destroy the drugs in urine, with names such as Whizzies, Urine Luck and Mary Jane's Super Clean 13.

Use these tips to keep druggies out of your workplace:

Tell applicants that you may test for drugs. That alone will scare off a certain percentage of drug users, even if you don't intend to test. Also, if you're in one of the states that makes it a crime to tamper with employer drug tests (Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn-sylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Vir-ginia), make sure employees know that, too.

Shorten notice time. Job applicants have more time to foil a drug test than employees who are randomly tested. Some employers ask to test applicants the same day they apply.

Ask the lab for 'specimen validity testing,' which tests urine for dilution or adulterants. Labs won't automatically do it unless you request it.

Look into oral-based tests. These cheaper, less invasive tests involve swabbing an applicant's mouth with a cotton-tipped sensing device. Examples: Oral-Screen from Avitar Inc., www.avitarinc. com, and Intercept from LabOne, www.4intercept.com.

Final tips: Make sure your drug testing passes legal muster. Nearly half of the states, and some cities, limit when you can use drug tests. And the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids testing until you've made a conditional job offer.

Good resource: The Labor Department's Small Business Workplace Kit, at www.dol.gov/asp/programs/drugs, offers resources for a drug-free workplace.

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