March 7, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2016
Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009
Positive test results at all-time high; changes to the statute governing testing scheduled for March 10 work session
AUGUSTA—The Maine Department of Labor has issued the 2015 Annual Report on Substance Abuse Testing by Maine Employers. The report is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_stats/publications/substanceabuse/index.html .
“Using substances that cause impairment while at work endangers not only the worker taking the drug, but also coworkers and clients,” stated Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine must provide employers the appropriate tools to retain valuable workers while maintaining a safe environment.”
The report covers testing of both job applicants and employees, with the vast majority being applicant testing. Both the number of tests administered and the number of positive results fell during the recession and have trended up during the recovery.
The highest percentage of positive tests occurred in 2015, at 5 percent. Many employers use a common five-panel test including cannabinoids (marijuana), amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and phencyclidine. Cannabinoids accounted for 84.1 percent of all positive test results.
The findings of this report support the department’s proposed changes to the current statute in LD 1384, An Act To Improve Workplace Safety by Simplifying and Improving Employers' Substance Abuse Policy Requirements. This bill is scheduled for a work session on Thursday, March 10, at 1 p.m. with the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.
LD 1384 is based upon the recommendations of the 2016 Report on Substance Abuse, Marijuana, Medical Marijuana and the Maine Employer Substance Abuse Testing Law (available online at http://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_stats/research.html under the heading Other Reports). See below for the link to the March 7 version of the draft amendment.
“This all-time high of positive workplace drug tests indicates that we are right to be concerned about the effect of drugs on worker safety. The amendments that the department has offered will help both employees and employers who worry about impairment on the job,” stated Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette.
The department’s Bureau of Labor Standards helps workers and businesses make their worksites safer, educates about and enforces wage and hour laws and gathers information on working in Maine. Its Technical Services Division is Maine’s leading resource for data and analysis relating to workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities, and it enforces the current workplace drug testing statute and coordinates research projects related to the state’s workplace safety and health.
Updates: The release has been updated to reflect that the work session on March 9 has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 10, at 1 p.m. with the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. A brief public comment period will be held as part of the work session.
A link to the March 7 version of the draft amendment to LD 1384 was added to this release.