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Third Largest US Refinery Pioneers Innovative Safety Program

ACTON, Mass., May 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In an industry where safety is paramount, one Texas oil refinery is leading the charge with an innovative drug testing program.  BP takes pride in their strong commitment to provide a safe workplace for employees and other persons working or visiting their refinery sites, and drug testing is one of the methods put in place to ensure that safety is a priority.

For employers, especially with workers in safety sensitive positions, it is critical to identify and screen out illicit drug users.  Studies have shown that not doing so results in increased healthcare costs and accidents, along with lost productivity and absenteeism.

BP Texas City, the third largest refinery in the US, pioneered a hair drug testing program in 2007 that required contractors working in the refinery to pass a drug test before they were approved to enter the plant.  The refinery had already seen the impact that the hair drug testing program had on their employees, and wanted to extend the added safety measure to the thousands of contractors allowed access to the site.

A typical hair test identifies drug use for months, as opposed to urinalysis, which typically only detects drug use from the past few days and sometimes as little as hours.  Users cannot "beat the system" by abstaining from drug use in the days leading up to the test, or take evasive action by adulterating or tampering with the test.

The need for the more rigorous testing was confirmed when the positive rate for the BP Texas City contractors jumped from under 4% with urine, to an 8.9% positive rate with hair testing in the first month of the program.  Perhaps the biggest eye opener was the fact that 74% of the positive tests were for cocaine use.  As the program continued and it became widely know that they required a hair test, the number of contractors testing positive for drugs steadily declined.  In 2011, BP Texas City reported their lowest drug positive rates ever and one of their best incident rates ever.

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