Laboratory Accreditation & Regulation

The accreditation of laboratories is the process of verifying the laboratory by a recognized body to accredit whether that laboratory is can perform tests within a defined scope. It means that a third party would verify that the laboratory has met its working standards and assessed the facility, capacity, objectives, integrity and the competence of that laboratory. In the industries where work place drug testing is performed, accreditation provides certification and gives assurance about the company’s products and services which comply to the general quality principles and particular industrial standards.

The accreditation of a drug testing laboratory by a fully recognized qualified body gives evidence of the compliance of that laboratory with its defined scientific and forensic standards along with the continuous performance of the laboratory. This is clearly shown in Figure 16.1. it also satisfies and brings customers into confidence that the results and reports are deemed to be correct. Accreditation also lets the laboratories improve their quality of services and continually upgrade them. This participation remediates the identified deficiencies that can be continuously improved upon to provide better results.

As far as drug testing is concerned, laboratories should ensure that not only they provide scientifically valid test results, but that, their forensic defensibility is also quite comprehensive. The procedures, data and documentations should e sufficient to hold up to any legal challenge. The results of the workplace drug test determine that employee’s hiring and firing status and that is why, all the laboratories are obliged to give accurate and reliable data, not only to the employers who conduct these tests but also to the employees whose specimens are tested.

That is the reason why inaccurate or unacceptable results can have serious consequences for all the involved parties. The employees who are wrongly accused of the drug are subjected to employment actions like dismissal, financial hardships and career setbacks which make them feel embarrassed and stigmatized by the wrong accusation. The employers may be held responsible for the financial compensation and legal charges for damages if they have taken adverse actions against an employee due to a false positive result. False negative results can also affect the workplace productivity, security and safety and an also fail to aid the employee with the drug addiction problem. Moreover, the failure to identify drug users at a workplace can also put the public at risk. This is so because for positions such as pilots, drivers, engineer or nuclear plant workers are examples of quite safety-sensitive positions. However, the workplace drug testing abuse may also affect the safety and quality of the products that are circulated in any industry. Lastly, even if the laboratory is not held liable for an error in the result, it can cause immense customer dissatisfaction, causing a loss of credibility for the program.

In some cases, the US federal law requires the employers to perform their drug testing program under federally regulated laboratories and agencies. It is mandatory for federal agencies to use the US federally regulated laboratories to ensure that a proper mandate is being followed. The private sector companies are also subjected to follow the federal testing mandates. For instance, the US department of transportation regularly applies testing regulations to millions of its employers, safety sensitive transportation employees and service agents for transportation industries. Some federal contractors and all federal grant recipients should implement the drug free workplace program according to the Federal Act. Many of these employers then choose to implement this regime as a part of an on-going drug free workplace program.

A majority of the US states do not impose the employers to implement drug testing programs in their places but many have enacted laws which address certain mandates for those employers who choose to test their employees. Some states need the testing to be performed regularly by HHS accredit laboratories or other bodies. However, many states with such law have their own procedural requirements which are detailed in provisions in their drug testing laws. In some states, a government agency license is required by laboratories who wish to perform workplace drug testing checks. This license is according to the workplace drug testing law. Also, many states now have laws which provide benefits like decreased workers’ compensation premiums to employers who implement these workplace drug testing programs.

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