Drug & Alcohol Testing:

Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing – Your Options Explained

Your Testing Options Explained

At SYNLAB Laboratory Services we offer end to end testing solutions to assist employers in identifying and deterring inappropriate drug and alcohol use in the workplace.
When meeting with companies new to workplace testing, we’re often asked what test options are available to them.
This blog examines when employers can test, the type of sample that can be tested and how this is done.

When can I test?

When something happens: At SYNLAB Laboratory Services we define a ‘For Cause’ collection or testing as two scenarios. The first is ‘Post Accident/Incident’, which tests those involved to eliminate the use of drugs and/or alcohol from proceedings.  The second is when there is ‘Reasonable Suspicion’, when behaviour and/or observations indicate substance misuse e.g. the discovery of illegal substances or empty alcohol containers.

Random: The impartial, random selection of employees to be drug and alcohol tested throughout the year.

Pre-Employment: Incorporating drug and alcohol testing into pre-employment checks or during probation periods.

On-going/Periodic Monitoring: Employees who have previously and voluntarily come forward admitting to having a drug and/or alcohol problem may be regularly tested over a 12 month period as part of a rehabilitation process.

What sample type should I use?

Once a customer has determined when they can test, the next question is usually “how”.

The following samples are most commonly used to screen for drugs and alcohol in the workplace:

Urine: The most effective method for drug testing is to use a urine test. Urine is considered the gold standard as it’s highly reliable and easy to collect and analyse.

Saliva: With a narrower window of detection, saliva is used to look for use within the past day or less. This unobtrusive method of testing is useful in situations where toilet facilities are not readily available.

Hair: Hair testing looks at historic drug use over a number of months. As a result, it is not commonly used as a front-line method within the workplace, but can be used during rehabilitation for longer term assessment because of its larger detection window.

Breath: An electronic legally defensible breathalyser is the most effective way to test a breath sample for alcohol. Breathalysers provide instant and accurate results.

How can I test the sample?

Once a decision has been made on sample type, the next consideration is how the sample is tested. There are two options for this stage: primary screen and laboratory analysis.

Primary Screen – A test is performed in front of the donor during the collection process to obtain a result there and then.

Laboratory analysis – The sample can be collected under Chain of Custody conditions to ensure full traceability of the sample throughout the process and sent into the laboratory for a primary screen.

SYNLAB Laboratory Services follows rigorous Chain of Custody procedures when undertaking any test, from the collection of the sample right through to the reporting of results.

Results of a primary screen – Given the stigma around drug testing, SYNLAB refer results of any primary screen are ‘negative’ or ‘non-negative’. If a donor obtains a non-negative result, it is not an admission of guilt. It simply means something within the sample has reacted with the test, however this could be an illegal drug, prescription medication or some over the counter medication, so further analysis is needed to confirm this.

For more information on testing options, speak to our Customer Services team on 01873 856 688 or email [email protected].

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