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Report on Rapid Site Access Program (Replacement of Pre Access Drug Testing with Random)

Report on Rapid Site Access Program (Replacement of Pre Access Drug Testing with Random)

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Published by Michael Thomas
A report on a growing program which optionally replaces our current model of pre-access (pre-employment) urine testing for drugs & alcohol with a randomized mouth based swab test.
In depth description of each systems functionality and implications.
A report on a growing program which optionally replaces our current model of pre-access (pre-employment) urine testing for drugs & alcohol with a randomized mouth based swab test.
In depth description of each systems functionality and implications.

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Published by: Michael Thomas on Mar 21, 2011
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12/01/2013

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Investigative Report on RSAP (Rapid SiteAccess Program) in Alberta, Canada
Authored by Michael Thomas; IBEW Local 424 Member
Introduction
The RSAP program is a change from our current system of drug and alcohol testing for construction. Due to thedrastic departure from the norm I thought it prudent to look into it more deeply and generate some discussionbased on the information I discover. My intent is to answer my own questions and provide some education forothers to make decisions. By the end I find myself favouring the RSAP program at least conditionally, and myanalysis likely conveys that, thus it is separate from the procedural facts.
Contents:
1)
 
C
URRENT
S
YSTEM OF
P
RE
-
ACCESS
S
CREENING
 2)
 
R
APID
S
ITE
A
CCESS
P
ROGRAM
I
NFORMATION
 3)
 
P
OST
I
NCIDENT AND
R
EASONABLE
C
AUSE
T
ESTING
 4)
 
C
ONCLUSIONS
&
 
P
OINT
F
ORM
N
OTES
 5)
 
S
OURCES
 
One: Current System
a)
 
P
ROCEDURE
 b)
 
C
OUNTERMEASURES
 c)
 
A
NALYSIS
 
a)
 
A union worker takes a job through his/her hiring hall and is given clearance to go to work. After going tothe union offices to get clearance slip and job specific instructions the member must telephone theemployer and notify them that they have accepted work. The employer will then give the worker a phonenumber to their chosen testing centre to make an appointment. The worker must then make anappointment (usually available within 1 to 2 business days) and go in for a pre access screening.The screening process differs slightly depending on what the employer chooses to pay for but is generallya breath alcohol test followed by a urine sample which is either tested immediately, or sent away fortesting. After performing the pre access screening the worker takes their clearance slip from the union,and the testing slip from the clinic and reports for work.The best case scenario has the worker getting a job on day one, doing their pre access testing on day two,and travelling to work on day three. Commonly it takes an additional two days with getting the
 
appointment and the test results being sent to the employer. In some cases usually involving largeemployers, and jobs requiring many workers there may be a delay of up to 5 working days to get testresults to the employer during which time the worker is not paid and cannot travel to work.This pre access process is industry standard and must be completed for each job.b)
 
Drug paraphernalia retailers sell a wide selection of synthetic urine kits, which come complete with asmall heating pad, concealment instructions, and often a money back guarantee that you will pass thetest.Failing a test once will mean a 24 hour rest period followed by a re-test, allowing for whatever method of countermeasure selected to be retried.The screening clinic staff cannot search you in any way. You are occasionally requested to lift your shirtand empty your pockets but many clinics are little more than a series of cubicles with a toilet and securityis essentially zero.While many clinics test for temperature a great deal do not and so it is possible to simply sneak in asample from a clean friend.Herbal cleansing regimens available at any health store can purge many peoples systems quickly and canenable someone using drugs to clean up long enough to give a clean sample.c)
 
The logic that if a person can be clean for one test they will be safe and drug free on a jobsite is unrealisticat best. The pre-access testing method is inconvenient, requires workers to travel all around town at theirown expense, and costs people valuable time at work. A 5 business day delay for a journeyman at $42 perhour amounts to an income loss of $2100 not including pension, benefits, and other money.Pre access testing appears to discriminate heavily (by coincidence or design) against marijuana users. Atesting regimen that targets the least harmful and lowest risk people in the light recreational categorieswhile almost completely ignoring hard drug users of cocaine, heroin, painkillers, and other drugs thataffect a person on and off the job in a dramatic way does not strike me as being productive given thecosts of the system to everyone.The status quo is insufficient and creates hardships ranging from very minor to moderate on a veryregular basis.
Two: Rapid Site Access Program Information
a)
 
P
ROCEDURE
 b)
 
C
OUNTERMEASURES
 c)
 
A
NALYSIS
 
a)
 
A worker (from any trade) voluntarily enrolls in the program by signing up online or through their unionhiring hall. If they have had a pre-access urine test in the past 90 days it is considered valid, otherwisethey must perform one standard breath/urine pre-access test at which point they are declared “active” inthe RSAP system. The worker can now take a call on day one, report for work on day two and beginimmediately. If selected in a monthly random draw to perform an oral fluids and breath alcohol test theworker is collected on paid time at work and accompanied by a supervisor to the jobsite gate or onsitelocation where testing vehicles are waiting. Union representation (steward) will also be present upon
 
request. The worker remains under supervision for a short wait period and is then handed a swab kit. Theworker will swab the inside of their mouth and give a breath sample then return to work. The kits arecouriered to a lab and results are returned within a few days to one week.If the test returns a positive result (fail) the workers status is changed from “active” to “inactive” and theemployer is notified of that change. The employer is not given any results, nor are they informed of whythe change has occurred. The worker is sent to Human Solutions through OHI for an assessment (or, if theperson knew the test would come back positive, could have already begun the process). The process herewill vary depending on severity of addiction or substance abuse if any, the participation of the worker andother factors. Return to work agreements may include counseling, online learning, or simply a follow uptest and return to work. The “return to work agreement” designed will be customized to the worker whowill be individually case managed.All information is kept confidential, the employer and the client/owner (shell scottford, esso, suncor etc)are not privy to any details. Upon implementation of the return to work agreements provisions theworkers status is changed back to “active” and he/she is able to return to their job.For a period of one year after completing this return to work process the worker may be subject to anadditional random testing which will be done at the same time as the random monthly selections foranonymity but will be urine samples instead.b)
 
The random element makes this very hard to circumvent. There doesn’t seem to be a way to beat the testcurrently since the subject is to be observed prior to the swab being administered to confirm a cleanuncontaminated sample being given. Mouth rinsing every day with sulphur based dental cleanser likeAMOSAN or switching to eating pot brownies may be effective but represent a massive change in habitsnot likely to be a viable option for most people. The test is not affected within the window by standardtoothbrush and mouthwash activity.c)
 
The RSAP program represents a shift in policy that can be interpreted multiple ways because it changes usfrom a discriminatory, easy to circumvent pre-access system to a random, narrow testing regime. Itseems to eliminate the discrimination against “low risk” recreational and occasional marijuana users andis actually a more accurate test for hard drugs used by higher risk people more traditionally in theaddiction and abuse cycle. The oral swab test does not check your blood or system for stored chemicalsthe way a urine test does, in order to fail the swab test for marijuana a user must have physically smokedwithin the last 12 to 20 hours (on average) as the test checks for those particles in the mouth and fluids.This method to me looks to be more relevant to a person’s performance on the job and less directed attheir off work activities. Second hand smoke (being in the car or room with someone smoking marijuana)will not trigger a false positive regardless of how long the person is there in the smoke.It appears that we have improved privacy and protection under RSAP for those people who do usebanned substances. Under the current program the client/employer knows and can keep a black listbased on your test results that might affect future employment, under RSAP this practice is impossible.The level of shielding from client, owner, and employer appears to be as bulletproof as we could hope for.RSAP’s ‘in house’ and ready to go treatment and return to work protocols appear more streamlined andclear, so that a person could have a reasonable understanding and lower anxiety should they fail arandom test. After care and case management in theory looks to be proactive and supportive and of anentirely confidential nature. There is an appeals process that allows a worker to go before a panel andchallenge an assessment or test result if they feel it is in error.

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