Do Construction Companies Drug Test? Everything We Know

Do Construction Companies Drug Test? Everything We Know


Yes, all major construction companies will drug test their employees. Many construction companies drug test because it's a safety precaution. This article will provide insights into the types of drug tests used in construction companies and how frequently they are conducted.

Table of Contents:

Drug Testing For Construction Industry

Construction companies are businesses that construct buildings and other structures. They can also provide services such as engineering, architectural design, and building management. Jobs in construction vary by company and project type. 

Construction companies typically hire tradesmen such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and other skilled professionals to work on their projects. Some construction projects need specialist skills in areas like building physics or architecture.

Many construction companies have a no-tolerance policy for drug use. Some construction companies have implemented random drug testing to ensure that their employees are productive and safe on the job.

According to a survey conducted by the National Safety Council in 2008, more than 50% of employers required pre-employment drug screening. Companies felt that implementing a drug-free workplace enforced a strong work ethic and showed commitment to upholding safety standards.

What is the history of drug use in the construction industry?

In the past, drug use in the construction industry has been highly stigmatized. Drug use has been seen as a sign of weakness and a lack of morals. The stigma surrounding drug use was so prevalent that some construction workers would conceal illegal substances from their employers. 

On some projects, employers even punished employees for "testing positive," which meant they could not work on a specific project because of drug abuse. As a result, many people had concerns about how drugs could affect their safety on construction sites. That is why drug tests were introduced into the construction industry.

What Are The Statistics Of Drug Abuse At Construction Sites?

  • The use of illegal drugs among construction employees is around 11% higher than in other industries, ranging between 1% and 5%. 
  • The most common substance that workers abuse on construction sites is MMJ. 
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that the construction workers' MMJ use is higher than any other industry, with 22% of users admitting to illegal drug use. The following highest percentage was pharmaceuticals at 2.1%.
  • According to SAMHSA's model workplace drug testing information, there were at least 1,447 accidental deaths in the construction field in 2001, which is 41% higher than any other field.

However, nowadays, not all construction companies drug test, and the legality of drug testing varies across the country. 

Commonly abused drugs in the construction industry

The construction industry is commonplace for workers to use drugs. People are consuming many drugs in the construction industry, including MMJ, cocaine, and heroin. The most commonly abused drug in the construction industry is MMJ.

MMJ usage has been a problem among construction workers since its legalization in several states across the country. Construction companies correctly assume that those who smoke MMJ will probably not be productive at work. 

Therefore, they typically subject their employees to random drug testing. It can be dangerous to everyone on the site, including the workers themselves. Therefore, companies cannot ignore workplace safety.

Different drug testing practices:

Drug testing in the construction industry is becoming common. As a result, these construction companies are using different drug testing practices as follows:

  1. Random Drug Testing - A random drug test means that an employer can test a random sample of an employee. The employees will be unaware that a particular individual will be going through these random drug tests. On average, 10% of the workforce has to take a drug test. However, the rate of employee participation in drug-testing programs will depend on whether an incident involved the employee.
  2. Post-Accident Drug Testing - If an employee is involved in an accident that drugs could have caused, they are subject to drug testing after the accident.
  3. Random Suspicion Testing - One or more employees will be randomly drug tested if their supervisor suspects that they are under the influence of drugs at work.

Construction Industry Pre-Employment Test

It is a legal requirement that employers must tolerate, as it is a way to ensure the safety of their employees. But, drug testing is not limited to pre-employment screening.

Drug testing can happen after an internship or after an employee has taken a leave of absence. Although not done as often as pre-employment drug screenings, these follow-up tests are sometimes necessary to track whether employees maintain their work performance levels.

The construction pre-employment test includes a risk assessment that examines how productive, reliable, honest, and dependable the applicants are. Also, it tests the attitude of the employees toward rule adherence and counterproductive workplace behavior.

Checking rule-breaking behavior, fraud acts, absenteeism, time-wasting tendency, and workplace theft acts will help the company to assess the employee well. This test will reduce workplace accidents and improve safety and productivity.

Constructional Ability Test

This ability test helps the company or employer evaluate a candidate's knowledge in site preparation, material handling, diagram understanding, construction works, hazardous tools handling, and safely working with large and small power tools. 

This testing method will include mechanical aptitude tests to check math skills and the ability to operate machinery safely and efficiently. Next is testing job site operations to evaluate the employee's knowledge in measuring the building site, installing piping, mixing materials, performing structure demolitions, and finishing concrete surfaces. It also includes testing project management skills to find their ability to interpret blueprints and graphs, manage a team, and meet goals and deadlines.

The Top Reasons Why Drug Testing Is Essential At Construction Companies

  • Construction work may be dangerous. Therefore physically fit employees should only carry out their job functions. They must be able to perform all the tasks assigned to them with ease and efficiency. Drug use can impair an employee's ability to carry out these job duties.
  • Employees' safety should also consider other employees working around them and clients and customers of the company.
  • Drugs pose a danger to the health and safety of the workers, the public's welfare, and damage to the company's reputation.
  • The employer also relies on drug tests to detect discrepancies in workplace practices. Such gaps may occur when atypical levels of drug use could indicate that another illegal activity is taking place in which drugs include: trafficking, using in public, abusing prescription drugs, and their recreational use through injection or inhalation.
  • It also protects the company from legal action from employees who feel mistreated or discriminated against because of their use of drugs or alcohol outside work hours.
  • Process control is also crucial in the construction industry. Any irregularity in the workplace could lead to negative consequences, including delayed or defective project completion, damaged materials, and property or safety hazards that threaten workers and others.
  • The company staff is one of the essential assets of any business. To reduce staff turnover, it needs to retain its loyal, hardworking, and dedicated employees. Drug testing helps achieve this goal.
  • It also helps determine the kind of job applicants the company should be looking for. With drug test results, the company can narrow down its field of potential employees.

Types of Drug Tests Used By Construction Companies

There has been a lot of debate as to which drug testing method is the most effective. While there are many different types of drug tests, including urine, hair, saliva, and blood testing, there is no universal test that can quickly detect most drugs at once. 

There are various types of drug testing methods that construction companies use. Many of these tests test for MMJ use due to its prevalence in the construction industry.

Urine Drug Testing: 

Urine drug testing is the most common pre-employment drug testing in construction companies. It is easy to administer and inexpensive. However, these tests can detect illegal drugs within one to three hours after use. For example, they can detect cocaine in urine within three hours of use.

Mouth Swab Drug Test: 

Oral Saliva Drug Test is the preferred drug testing method for construction companies because it can detect drugs for up to eight days after use. The drawback is that saliva tests are not as accurate as urine tests, and they can give a false-positive result on some substances. Therefore, it should only be the first step in a pre-employment drug screening process.

Hair follicle testing: 

Hair follicle tests are less common in construction sites because they are slightly more expensive than other forms of drug testing. However, hair is one of the most effective ways to detect MMJ and hashish use. 

Creating a Construction Company Drug Testing Program:

In this section, you will learn how a construction company can make a drug-testing program to meet its needs. When a construction company decides to implement a drug testing policy, it should be done on three levels: Cost, Legality, and Practicality.

First, the company should consider the cost of implementing a comprehensive policy. In general, it would be best to assess the labor part of the construction business before deciding how to start this program. 

Second, the company should determine whether it will include or exclude any drugs in its screening procedures. This decision is primarily dependent on the availability of resources and the type of jobs performed by employees.

Third, it is also important to consult an expert who can help determine if a drug testing policy for your company is necessary. The expert can also provide guidance about how this program should be designed.

Construction Companies Drug Testing Policy

The Drug-Free Workplace Act requires employers to adopt a drug-free workplace policy to maintain their employees' safety and health standards. The policy must be regularly updated and enforced. It must also be available for employees to read. 

If an employee violates the policy at any time, they will be subject to drug and alcohol rehabilitation and may even lose their position. The federal law is a clear acknowledgment that drug and alcohol use is a problem in the workplace. 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that as many as 5% to 20% of all U.S. construction workers may be using drugs or alcohol on the job.

As previously stated, federal law requires employers to adopt a drug-free workplace policy that will permit them to conduct random drug testing if they have reasonable suspicion that an employee is under the influence. 

Since this is true, every employer at every construction site must comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

Contractor Drug Testing Policy

Contactors' drug testing policies include the following.

  • Maintain a drug-free workplace that prohibits manufacturing, using, and distributing controlled substances. 
  • Establishing a drug-free awareness program to acknowledge the employees about the hazardous effects of using those substances in the workplace 
  • Ensure that all employees are aware of their reporting obligations and further procedures if a person is convicted of any criminal drug violation.
  • Notify the federal contracting agency if the company finds a rule violation in their workplace.
  • Take actions against the employee convicted of workplace drug violations, like imposing a penalty or making him participate in a rehabilitation or counseling program.

What Type Of Drug Test Do Unions Use?

You may wonder, “Do Union jobs Drug Test?” The answer is Yes. Construction Unions may conduct a standard 5 panel urine drug test (sometimes blood, saliva, or hair testing based on circumstances) to find the presence of THC, COC, Amphetamines, PCP, and Opiates.

Carpenters Union Drug Testing

A person who wants to join the Carpenters Union should clear drug testing. Here, drug testing is an essential part of the selection process. You need to pass this drug test even if you want to enroll in a course with a competitive applicant pool. They will not accept your application if you fail your drug test. You should expect these tests throughout your apprenticeship program. 

The most common drug test conducted by the Carpenters Union is the 5 panel urine test, where they collect the urine sample and test for five major illicit drugs - COC, AMP, THC, OPI, and PCP. You may get the negative results within 24 hours and positive results may take around 24 to 48 hours.

Top 10 Construction Companies That DO A Drug Test

Here, we will discuss the top 10 construction companies that drug test. Many of these companies share a philosophy of staying true to their values and improving the safety of their employees while maintaining a safe and productive workforce.

  • W.G. Yates & Sons Inc
  • W.G. Yates & Sons Inc., founded in 1883, is one of the most reputable businesses in America. The company is listed on both the Forbes 500 and Fortune 500 lists, proving its status as one of the best construction companies in the country. 

    The company's general counsel runs its drug-testing program. The program has been in place since 1996, has a strict policy requiring a full urine sample. The program complies with all federal and state rules and regulations. If you fail their drug test, you may lose your job.

  • DPR Construction
  • DPR Construction is in the business of heavy construction and general contracting services. They have a drug and alcohol program to protect their employees and subcontractors from injury and fatalities due to substance abuse in the workplace. 

    The program requires a full, unsupervised urine sample along with a substance abuse assessment. Candidates who fail the initial test have to complete the post-testing evaluations.

  • Clark Construction Co.
  • Clark Construction Co., also known as Clark & Angell, is a leading construction company in the United States. They have been in business for over 100 years and have won awards from the American Public Works Association for safety, health, and efficiency initiatives. 

    Clark Construction Co. has a drug testing policy that requires a full urine sample and random testing. Furthermore, if you fail the drug test, they will also conduct a physical exam and a psychological evaluation. If you are under drugs or alcohol while on duty, you may get fired from the company.

  • Does Turner Construction Drug Test?
  • Yes. Turner Construction Company was formed in 1902 and is one of the largest privately-owned companies in the United States. They provide building construction and related services for customers around the world. 

    Turner Construction Company has a potent drug and alcohol testing policy with random blood and urine testing. Employees who fail their drug test may get fired immediately. They promote a safe, clean, and drug-free work environment.

  • Webcor Builders Inc.
  • Webcor Builders Inc. is a privately-held construction company in the United States. The company has been ranked in the top 10 throughout the years by Engineering News-Record for various performance indicators, including safety. 

    They have an extensive drug and alcohol policy that includes pre-employment, training, post-accident, and random testing. They hold their employees to strict standards of conduct which demands that employees maintain a safe and productive work environment free from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

  • Bechtel Group Inc.
  • Bechtel Group Inc., founded in 1898, is one of the most reputable construction companies in the country. The company has over 48,000 employees worldwide. Their safety, health, and environmental programs have been in place since 1956. 

    The company works closely with the U.S. government on public safety and health projects, adding to its commitment to drug testing. The drug-testing program is extensive, requiring random urine tests for employees under 42, 52, or 60 years old. 

    If you fail a drug test, you will have to administer a drug/alcohol test that includes a physical and psychological evaluation.

  • Kiewit Corporation
  • Kiewit Corporation, founded in 1970, is a national construction firm. They have projects located throughout the United States and Canada. Their drug testing policy is stringent, requiring that all employees participate in one random drug test per year. 

    Additionally, they require that you pass your drug test before they allow you to start working for them. If you fail the drug test, you may get an immediate termination from employment with kiewit Corporation.

  • Crowley Construction Group Inc.
  • Crowley Construction Group Inc., founded in 1967, is a privately-held construction company with thousands of employees worldwide. They have a strong drug and alcohol program that protects lives and ensures that the company maintains a safe work environment. 

    Crowley Construction Group Inc. requires all employees to pass their post-accident drug test within 30 days of the injury or incident which caused your drug test to happen. On the other hand, you will be immediately discharged from employment if you fail the drug test.

  • Miller Construction Co.
  • Founded in 1964, Miller Construction Co. is a privately-held construction company that provides construction and related services worldwide. 

    Miller Construction Co. is not only concerned with maintaining a safe work environment by conducting random drug and alcohol testing on their employees, but they also provide holistic recovery programs for those who may need them. 

    They have a very comprehensive drug and alcohol testing program, with an official policy that includes pre-employment testing, random testing, and post-accident drug and alcohol testing following an injury or incident that caused the drug test to happen.

  • AECOM Drug Testing Policy
  • AECOM Construction is a privately-held construction company with over 14,000 employees worldwide. They have a drug and alcohol policy that includes random urine testing conducted by AECOM's official drug testing labs

    Furthermore, if you fail your drug test, they have no choice but to discharge you from employment immediately. AECOM Construction has been in business for over 100 years and has a very reputable drug testing program.

    Do Electricians Get Drug Tested?

    Yes. Electricians can get drug tested for drugs and alcohol anytime during their working hours as a part of the employer’s health and safety policy. If any electrician refuses to provide the sample, the employer may take disciplinary action. This is to prevent any mishap and maintain a safe workplace environment.

    Generally, the employees must provide their urine specimens for initial, post-accident, periodic, and random drug testing. Also, they have to undergo a breath alcohol test. Employers use 5 panel drug tests to check drug consumption of electricians and other safety-sensitive employees of drug categories like marijuana, phencyclidine (PCP), cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines.

    Do Civil Engineering Jobs Drug Test?

    Yes! Of course, for civil engineering jobs, candidates should undergo a pre-employment drug test before the job placement and random drug testing during working hours. Before the job placement, they should pass a pre-employment drug test, including submitting the hair sample, fingernails, or urine to verify illegal drug use.

    Final Words

    Drug testing is a necessary part of any construction company's drug policy.  It helps companies to take measures that will prevent drug use in the workplace. By implementing drug testing, companies can decrease the number of accidents on-site. 

    They are also able to get rid of individuals who are not productive employees. As far as construction companies are concerned, there is no choice but to implement a comprehensive policy that will assure safety and productivity on the site at all times. 

    Only a comprehensive drug testing policy can assure a safe and productive workplace. A qualified expert should design the best policy to ensure comprehensive, accurate, and efficiency.


    Can the employer's drug test on-site/off-site?

    Employers can test on-site; they can also test off-site if they have a sterile facility. 

    Can employers use swabs instead of urine for testing?

    Yes, swabs are far more effective in detecting non-voluntary drug use than the traditional urine test. Swabs are also considerably less expensive than urine testing kits, making them a far better option for small companies which can't afford to buy the more expensive urine testing kits.

    For more details on how urine drug testing differs from mouth swabbing, "click here."

    Can the construction companies test for THC?

    While many companies are testing for THC, it varies from job to job. You must be aware of what the company's policy says; otherwise, you could end up losing your job.

    Does a failed drug test go on your medical record?

    No, a failed drug test will not show up on your medical record. A failed drug test at work is the same as a failed drug test on a medical form, which would be an adverse diagnosis and carry with it immediate consequences to your career and livelihood.

    Is drug testing mandatory in construction?

    No, there are no national laws requiring drug testing in construction, but many construction employers have policies in place requiring pre-employment drug tests, which companies may choose to enforce. In addition, a handful of states have enacted laws that require drug testing for construction workers with a certain amount of hours worked under their belts.

    Why are there differences in drug testing policies among construction companies?

    Construction companies have the freedom to establish their drug testing policies, which may depend on its size and how it operates daily. For instance, a small company may decide to test all employees at random periodically. In contrast, a larger organization with many facilities across the country may only test applicants before hiring them.

    Do Internships Drug Test?

    Yes! Internships in the construction industry can expect a drug test. Many employers in other industries like healthcare, transportation, aviation, education, and sports also conduct a standard drug test for internships. Some employers may not require a drug test during internships. It might depend on the situation and drug testing laws in the state.

    Older Post Newer Post