Oil Field Drug Test: Everything You Need To Know

Oil Field Drug Test: Everything You Need To Know


The oil and gas industry is one of the biggest and most lucrative industries in the United States. As with other industries, drug use seems to be an issue for those who work in drilling rigs and refineries. Testing for illegal drugs started in the oil and gas industry in the eighties. 

But it was not till the nineties that most companies adopted drug screening for screening applicants. The purpose of an oil field drug test is to make sure that employees are not affected by drugs while they are on duty. 

The job is highly dangerous, and if workers are under the influence, it can result in devastating accidents that may result in death or serious injuries. However, let's learn everything we need to know about drug testing procedures in the oil and gas industry.

Table Of Contents:

Oil Field Jobs In The United States

The United States has found many benefits to using the oil and gas industry as a source of employment. A study by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2005 showed that the oil and gas industry had the largest percentage increase in employees out of any other field over the previous two years.

More and more people are choosing jobs in the oil and gas industry because this industry is booming. In fact, adding approximately 172,000 jobs in 2009 alone, the oil and gas industry increased 41% from 2007. 

With this increase, more people are employed in this industry than at any point since 1995 when it first started growing rapidly. Moreover, this industry has become the second-highest in terms of its wages.

In addition to the fact that more people are working in this industry, the salaries are also rising. However, the drug usage in this industry has also increased quite a bit since then.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2007, 4.7% of people in the oil and gas industry had tested positive for drug use. Moreover, according to the Partnership for Safety and Justice and the Department of Labor, one out of every three workers in this field tests positive for drug use. 

With these usage rates in mind, companies must make sure that they hire safe employees who do not pose a danger to themselves and their coworkers.

Are Oilfield Employees Drug Tested?

Yes, most employees in the oil and gas industry are drug tested. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that almost all companies had their workers take drug tests even before hiring. 

Moreover, once you are employed, it is common for you to take at least one drug test a year. There is also a greater chance of being tested daily if you are working in the field.

All businesses are responsible for protecting their employees, clients, and customers by ensuring that their employees are safe. By conducting drug testing on prospective and current employees, the oil and gas industry is accomplishing this goal.

The oil and gas industry spends over $6 billion each year to ensure safety and a drug-free workplace. However, with over 1.7 million workers in this industry, it is almost impossible for companies to police their workers. 

The prevalence of drug use in this industry is a major issue threatening the safety of all employees and all customers and clients. Moreover, the reasons for drug testing in the oilfield industry are listed below:

  • To keep the workplace safe and sanitary
  • To protect the safety of workers and maintain a positive work environment
  • To maintain the discipline of employee's performance and productivity
  • To minimize the risk of injuries and accidents in this industry
  • Many employees in this field also find that they are more productive when sober. It is especially true with workers who work at drilling sites or refineries because they are immediately faced with dangers such as fire, explosion, or injury.

Type Of Drug Testing Is Used In The Oilfield Industry

Many companies in the oil and gas industry use 5 panel urine test for screening employees are not under the influence of illegal drugs. Although there are other drug testing methods available, it is preferred that employers only use urine tests. 

It is because urine tests can identify a wide range of substances that employees who use drugs may be using. In addition, this type of drug test is highly accurate and cannot be easily beaten by the user. 

A urine test can easily be administered at the end of an employee's shift without them ever having to know about it before taking the test. Although some companies test their employees daily, some only do so once or twice a year. However, employers must test their employees whenever they have a particular reason. 

For example, if there is a reason to suspect an employee of drug use or substance abuse, the employer will likely test the employee. It is more common for companies with field workers to perform random drug tests annually. 

Are The Employee's Drug Tested During Pre-Employment In The Oilfield Industries?

Yes. Companies in the oil and gas industry mostly require new employees to take a drug test before getting hired. It is not mandatory by law, but it also eliminates possible problems associated with employee drug use. 

An employer has the right to deny employment to a potential employee if they have reasonable doubts that using illegal drugs will negatively impact their ability to perform their job duties effectively. 

However, a pre-employment drug test is necessary for employees applying for safety-sensitive jobs such as chemical plant workers, operating engineers, or heavy equipment operators.

When Can An Employee Expect A Drug Test While Working In The Oil Field Industry?

Many companies in the oil and gas industry conduct random drug testing of their employees. This type of drug testing is often conducted daily for employees who work in dangerous jobs. 

On-site drug testing is also used in the oilfield industry to prevent drug use from occurring in the workplace. However, employers often choose to begin drug-testing randomly for employees who are only suspected of using drugs. 

For instance, some workers may be required to take a drug test once they have shown unusual behavior and overall inefficiency. These types of employees will undergo an aggressive routine of testing that can include both drug and alcohol testing and even psychological evaluations. 

In most instances, if an employee is suspected of using drugs, they will be sent for a drug test before their performance is addressed. However, if you are an employee using illegal substances in the workplace, you will likely just be asked to go on a leave of absence while you undergo rehabilitation. 

If you continue to show signs of drug influence, this will likely result in termination.

What Are The Consequences If You Fail A Drug Test In The Oilfield?

There are consequences for employees who fail their drug tests in the oil and gas industry. These include a minimum of a two-week suspension, diagnosis for rehabilitation, or even terminations. 

In most cases, employees who fail their drug tests will be subject to a second test before concluding a final decision about their employment status. Moreover, an employer may wait for at least 15 days before deciding on an employee's employment status.

There are also possible legal ramifications for employees who have failed drug tests in the workplace. In addition, an employee who is found guilty of using drugs may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits from California. 


Drug testing is used widely in the oilfield industry, but it is not new. It has been around for a long time, and it continues to be used to keep employees safe on dangerous jobs that could put them at risk if you are under the influence of illegal substances. 

While there are many benefits to drug testing in the workplace, it is important to remember that there are laws to protect employees. If you are applying for a job in the oil and gas industries should know that you will likely have to complete drug testing. 

However, you should also know that this can be done anonymously in most cases. It will ensure that the employees who work in these fields are safe from potentially dangerous situations that may arise from drugs and alcohol.


What are the most common drugs that are tested for in the oilfield?

The most common substances tested for in the oil and gas industry include Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Benzodiazepines, Buprenorphine, Cannabis (THC), Cocaine, Codeine, etc. Dihydrocodeine, Heroin, Methadone, Methamphetamine, Morphine, and Opiates.

Are there any policies and laws for drug testing in the oilfield?

There are always policies and laws for drug testing in the oilfield. However, company policies can be found on their websites or at the human resource department in most cases. In addition, there is a state law that covers drug testing for job applications that are sent to a private employer. 

Also, any employee who takes drugs into work during their shift has a legal obligation to report this to their supervisor immediately.

Can you refuse to take a drug test?

Under certain circumstances, employees can refuse to take a drug test. However, these employees must have a valid excuse for their refusal to do so. 

Just saying is not enough of an excuse. However, it is essential to note that employers may still discipline those who choose not to complete a drug test or test for using illegal substances.

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