Observed Testing

Definition - What does Observed Testing mean?

Observed testing is a clinical procedure that entails a collector or designated observer acting as an immediate witness to the evacuation of a urine specimen into a sealable container or vial by an applicant and/or employee during drug screens. A medical review officer (MRO) authorizes a collector of the same gender to perform observed testing under questionable circumstances. For instance, individuals suspected of adulterating or tampering with a urine specimen based on palpable characteristics including changes in color, odor, or texture can be documented as a refusal to test.

WorkplaceTesting explains Observed Testing

Although drug testing is a standard and often mandatory procedure for both applicants and/or employees to follow, state laws vary widely in terms of regulating drug testing protocol. The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 provides the groundwork for employers to introduce and uphold drug-free health and safety policies serving as an incentive for many businesses to continue receiving federal funding. Companies have discretionary power to administer drug screens at the outset and during employment as an effective deterrent against substance abuse.

However, certain legal boundaries exist where employers face the challenge of maintaining a drug-free work environment at the risk of incurring liabilities. For instance, some individuals may deem observed testing an invasion of privacy, especially if they feel singled out based on biased characteristics including appearance, background experience, or behavior. Employers must have legitimate grounds to conduct observed testing, such as if an applicant and/or employee is suspected of tampering with a urine specimen.

Common misconceptions surround drug testing protocol as many people believe it is an expedient method to disqualify individuals on baseless assumptions of distrust or otherwise good work ethics. The legalization of marijuana, for example, in some states has garnered polarizing opinions between its marginal biochemical effects on the brain and body compared to regular alcohol use. In view of this fact, certain industries and occupations still reserve the right to conduct observed testing where an applicant and/or employee, colleagues, and the public welfare is a concern. For instance, individuals using drugs while operating a commercial vehicle can impair cognition, jeopardizing the operator and other motorists on the road.

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