‘Perfect storm of problems’ causes delays in drug screens for new hires

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wisc. (WLAX) –Many companies require a standard drug test for new employees; however, with delays in lab results and supply chain issues, the task is no longer as quick and easy as it once was.

“It’s been a challenge to try to keep everything operational to the point where it’s not affecting our employers as much as we can control it,” Nicki Omdahl, team leader at Bellin Occupational Health said.

Bellin Occupational Health is an organization hired by countless employers in northeast Wisconsin to drug screen new hires. What Omdahl called a “perfect storm of problems” all collided in late summer to create a sudden and unexpected backlog and delays in lab results.

“We have never had everything happen at once like that, and we’ve never experienced a shortage with kits,” she said.

Problem number one was the weather. Guidelines require drug screens to be tested at federally certified labs, but not by the same one who collected the sample. Some of the labs used by Bellin are in Louisiana where Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc earlier this year.

“So if the transport services can’t get on the road to get the sample where it needs to go, it gets held in the terminal facility,” Omdahl explained. “And in our case, two of our main labs were very affected by Hurricane Ida, so they had to shut down completely.”

Once the storm passed, the labs worked around the clock to get caught up, but labor shortages also caused additional issues.

“One of our main laboratories had a competitor build in the area, and then lost some staff to it, and then had to kind of uptick their labor force to manage that,” Omdahl said.

A shortage of supplies needed to make the test kits was problem number three. That shortage, according to Omdahl, can be attributed to the ice storm in Texas in February.

Omdahl asked for patience. She also recommended those wanting to start a new job schedule drug screening as soon as possible.

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