GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Supply chain shortages and issues. They seem to be the words of the year that are causing all kinds of pandemic-related problems for employers and consumers.
Now we’ve learned that they have an impact on an area of hiring, in an extremely competitive job market, that many people don’t think about: pre-hire drug testing.
With “now hire” listings pretty much everywhere you look, employers are scrambling to recruit new staff. Most employers require these new hires to pass a standard drug test before starting work.
It’s not as quick and easy as it sounds anymore.
“It has been a challenge to try to keep everything operational to the point where it doesn’t affect our employers as much as we can control it, ”says Nicki Omdahl, team leader for occupational health and drug testing management at Bellin Occupational Health, an organization hired by countless employers in Northeast Wisconsin to track the news. recruits.
What Omdahl calls a “perfect storm” of problems collided in late summer, creating a sudden and unexpected backlog and delay in lab results.
“We’ve never done everything at the same time like this, and we’ve never experienced a shortage of kits,” says Omdahl.
Why? There are a few reasons.
Problem number one: the weather, starting with Hurricane Ida.
Federal guidelines require that drug tests be done in an HHS certified laboratory. The person who tests it for the final result, cannot take the sample.
Some of these labs, for Bellin, are in Louisiana.
“So if the transport services can’t get on the road to get the sample to where it needs to go, it gets held up in the terminal. And in our case, two of our main laboratories were very affected by Hurricane Ida, so they had to shut down completely, and operations ceased, and the screening test had to be carried out at the delivery terminals, ”explains Omdahl.
After the storm passed, she says the labs worked 24/7 to make up for it, but even then there’s still problem number two: understaffing.
“They all saw delays due to work. One of our main labs had a competitor built in the area and then they lost staff and then had to increase their workforce to handle that, ”she says.
Third problem: a shortage of supplies needed to make the test kits in the first place.
This shortage, says Omdahl, is due to the ice storm in Texas in February.
“So the resin shortage contributed to a plastic shortage because all the polymers they use for composites were in short supply, and none of the manufacturers were able to get it to provide us with the volumes we need. for testing, ”says Omdahl.
While the hurricane temporarily delayed lab results for 10 days or more, it’s usually back to normal at 24-72 hours, but labor and supply shortages aren’t as quick to come by. to recover.
“With labor shortages as they have been, I wouldn’t expect it anytime soon,” says Omdahl.
In the meantime, she says her supply chain staff will continue to work hard to find alternatives, but she asks for patience.
And if you wait until you start a new job, the sooner you can schedule a drug test, the better.
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