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Workforce drug testing positivity rate highest in 16 years: Study


The percentage of positive marijuana drug tests among workers rose by 11% across nearly all employee testing categories in 2019, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Quest Diagnostics Inc.

In its annual drug testing index, the Secaucus, New Jersey-based diagnostics firm found that overall positive drug tests hit a 16-year high in 2019, accounting for surges in marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine use.

Specifically, positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased in urine drug tests, climbed to 4.5%, the highest level since 2003 and a percentage point higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012. 

In the general U.S. workforce, marijuana positivity grew from 2.8% in 2018 to 3.1% in 2019 — an overall surge of 29% since 2015, according Quest’s data, which relies on more than 18 million urine drug test results conducted between 2015 and 2019.

The analysis of overall drug use in the United States also found that in the first few months of 2020, drug deaths increased about 13% compared with last year, “attributable partly to social isolation and other disruptions caused by COVID-19.”

“There is no question that before COVID-19 rates of workplace drug positivity were trending in the wrong direction, based on our Quest Diagnostics data,” said Dr. Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology, Quest Diagnostics, in a statement. “The enormous strain caused by COVID-19 may prove to be an accelerant on this disturbing trend… Organizations will need to consider the impact of COVID-19 not only on workplace safety but also as a health concern for their employees for some time to come.”

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here






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