Workplace Drug Testing in the Security Guard Industry

Security guards differ slightly from trained police officers and military personnel, but a growing proportion of security guards now have former military or police experience. Some security guards, especially those just starting out, use their job for practical experience in order to apply for jobs in law enforcement. For this reason, it is crucial to perform proper background screening and impose regulations on those who work in this profession. Employers in the security guard industry should adopt a sound workplace drug testing program for security guard applicants.

Workplace Drug Testing Policy

There are many reasons to impose workplace drug testing in the security guard industry:

  • Deter the abuse of drugs
  • Prevent the hiring of employees who use illegal drugs
  • Provide early identification of possible addictions
  • Referral to treatment programs for employees with alcohol or drug problems

Pre-employment drug testing is conducted to prevent the hiring of employees who are using drugs. It is extremely cost-effective since most drug users will not bother applying at companies in the security guard industry that conduct pre-employment drug testing, consequently saving security guard industry employers time and money. Post-accident testing is the most effective way to reduce workplace accidents. Reasonable suspicion drug testing helps minimize potential liability resulting from drug or alcohol abuse. Random workplace drug testing is the most cost-effective process to deter drug abuse in the security guard industry and the fastest way to convey a drug-free workplace to employees. Employees in security guard industry who value their job are less likely to use drugs with the knowledge that they are subject to a drug test at any given time.

Drug Abuse Statistics in the Security Guard Industry

Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace negatively affects U.S. industry and costs countless dollars. It entails lost productivity, increased workplace accidents and injuries, employee absenteeism, low morale, and increased illness. The security guard industry loses countless dollars due to employees' alcohol and drug use and related problems. Research shows that drug and alcohol use varies by occupation and industry. Studies have also indicated that employers vary in there workplace drug testing programs and treatment of drug and alcohol use issues and that workplace-based employee assistance programs (EAP) can be a valuable resource for obtaining help for workers who abuse drugs or alcohol.

Among the employees in Transportation and Warehousing

  • 6.2 percent of full-time employees aged 18 to 64 have admitted to illicit drug use during the past month
  • 8.6 percent of full-time employees aged 18 to 64 have admitted to heavy alcohol use during the past month

Employee Assistance Programs

After detection due to implemented workplace drug testing programs, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) help employees and their families address the wide range of personal problems that stem from drug abuse. They function to assess the nature and seriousness of the alcohol or other drug problem, and when treatment is necessary, to direct the employee to the most appropriate treatment program. They also have an important role in monitoring an employee's progress until the treatment program is complete. A viable EAP related to workers in the security guard industry is a significant cost benefit and does much to restore employees with drug abuse problems to good health and well being.

All About Drug Testing in the Security Industry

Private security companies provide both armed and unarmed services for the protection of personnel and/or assets. To protect clients against losses from crime, natural disasters or accidents, these companies provide:

• Personnel – bodyguards (close protection or covert), investigators, security guards, couriers etc

• Equipment – alarm systems, CCTV, safes, locks, fire protection systems, fencing etc.

• Services – employee background checks & drug testing, alarm monitoring, evacuation planning and implementation, computer security, polygraph testing, vehicle tracking, guard dog training etc.

While experts within the industry offer background checking and drug testing services, it is also standard practice for their employees and would-be employees to undergo the same screening processes.

Background Screening & Drug Testing in the Security Industry

 Background checks and pre-employment drug testing are standard practices within the industry. People who are to be entrusted with the safety of the security company’s clients have to possess impeccable credentials (no criminal record and/or drug abuse history).

Very basic background checks typically only include SSN scan, employment history and education. This level of background checking can leave far too many red flags undetected, and will simply not do for those seeking jobs within the private security industry. For this reason, candidates are routinely subjected to comprehensive background screening that can include any combination of the following:

  • Nationwide Criminal with SSN Trace and Alias
  • Sex Offender Registry
  • Global Criminal Watch List
  • National Federal Criminal Search
  • Nationwide Wants and Warrants

Candidates for private security jobs have to satisfactorily establish NO history of drug use and the best drug testing method for this is the hair test. A standard 90-day hair drug test will require 1.5 inches of hair cut close to the scalp. If no head hair is available, body hair can be used.

 Random drug testing – this is another mandatory test used by security companies to ensure that their employees remain drug-free. Urine testing is the method of choice but some security companies use other methods as long as they are covered by their own drug-free workplace policies. Urine testing offers some advantages and multi-panel drug tests are able to satisfactorily detect even the less popular substances.

Advantages of Urine Testing:

 Post-incident testing - is most conveniently done with saliva drug tests. Specimen collection is very easy, non-invasive and does not require same-sex observers. It is practically impossible to tamper with the sample. Saliva testing is even more affordable than the urine testing and is steadily becoming more popular among employers.


In the United States, private security is a 350-billion dollar industry with an estimated 2 million full-time security workers. Private sector spending on security products and services accounted for $281.6 billion while the remaining $68.9 billion came from federal government spending on homeland security.

The private security industry has figured in a few controversies over the years, some involving drug use and criminal behavior by the security officers themselves. Some experts say that the nature of the jobs that industry workers have to handle would naturally drive them to substance or alcohol use but there are very little studies conducted on the subject and the numbers are non-specific at best. It is therefore prudent on the part of the industry employers to strictly and religiously implement a drug-free workforce policy.