Post-Accident Drug Tests

Many employers have adopted policies and implemented programs for drug and alcohol testing after an employee is involved in a workplace accident. This testing is referred to as “post-accident” or “post-incident” drug testing. The result of the test will be used to determine if drug use was a contributing factor to the accident. When an employer opts to use post-accident drug testing, certain criteria must be established to maintain objectivity and determine what circumstances warrant a drug test.

Many employers require a drug test to be performed if their employee’s action resulted in property damage, a citation from the police, a fatality, or a serious injury. Post-accident drug tests can determine whether the person involved used drugs and is also important in establishing that drugs or alcohol were not involved.

Positivity Rates

Data compiled from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI) – based on the results of drug tests administered under the circumstances mentioned above – reveal that positive results occurred in 6.5 percent of post-accident urine drug tests administered to the general workforce.

Specimen Types

Urine-based drug testing is the best method suited for post-accident drug testing and can include the following categories of drugs:

Typical 10-panel Non-Federal urine drug test **** Federal 5-panel Drug Test

• Amphetamines • Barbiturates • Benzodiazepines
• Cocaine • Creatinine • Marijuana
• Methadone • Methaqualone • Opiates
• PCP • Propoxyphene

Breath Alcohol tests are performed for all Federal (DOT, FAA, Pipeline, Coast Guard, FTA, etc.) testing. Non-Federal alcohol testing within Minnesota, because of case law is normally initiated using Breath Alcohol as a screen or indicator. The level at which alcohol is considered positive must be defined in a drug and alcohol policy, may be as low as 0.04 or even 0.02. If that level is reached, a Blood Alcohol test is normally performed. Minnesota case law allows a worker who tests positive to a drug or alcohol test to pay for a retest of the same specimen. Since non-Federal breath tests do not result in a physical, retestable specimen, blood is collected and sent to a lab, much like urine drug screens.


Drug tests can have many different purposes for an employer. Pre-screening applicants with a drug test can reduce the chance that your organization hires an active drug user. Random screening during employment can discourage current employees from using drugs. Post-accident drug testing is different. Its purpose is to determine whether drug and/or alcohol use played a role in a workplace accident. Post-accident drug and alcohol testing is a useful policy that can lead to improvement in safety practices and a reduction in risk and costs for the employer.

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