Workplace drug testing is commonplace and growing. More and more companies are facing the real problem of dealing with employees with drug and alcohol problems. Proactive employers are introducing drug and alcohol screening programs to reduce their risk, improve safety in their workplace environments, and to make it apparent to all employees that working under the influence of drugs is not acceptable.
So with such a large problem in the UK why is it not possible to find clear guidance on how to set up a program of drug screening within a workplace ? The simple answer is that no government body or the HSE or other employment agency have a responsibility to oversee the introduction or operation of drug screening. Clear guidance on how to test and what to test for will almost certainly not cover all the possible scenarios experienced in business across the UK, so none exists.
Getting it right for UK Business’s
So here is some starting guidance to base a simple workplace drug testing program on which will keep your testing program within best practice expectations and keep you protected right through to tribunal hearings and disciplinary proceedings.
- Make it fair. This means random drug screening must be just that. A random cohort across the entire workforce and sampled regularly.
- Check your terms of employment contracts. If they don’t include a section on your right to request samples for drug and alcohol testing, then any request you make can be declined by the employee.
- Talk to the workforce and give fair notice of when drug testing will start.
- Drug misuse should be handled no differently from any other disciplinary matter with full documentation. Best practice would also incorporate support of the employee to seek treatment for the misuse of illicit drugs.
- Post incident drug screening, is again dependent on ability to drug test employment contract, without this it becomes voluntary.
- Follow a written procedure for drug screening, witnessed and signed by the donor, with all results carefully documented.
What drugs should be tested for ?
There are no right and wrong drugs to test for. Local issues should be considered. Your local drug team or police liaison officer are ideal contacts to advise on what drugs are a particular problem. Most suppliers will also have a good idea of suitable drug test combination tests for your workforce, so ask their advice. Your demographic should also be considered. If you are testing 50-60 year olds Benzodiazepines may be of interest. If your donors are 18-24 year old party organisers, then Ketamine may be a better choice. Give your test kit supplier good information on who you intend to test, they will recommend suitable test combination kits.
The base drugs which should always be included are
THC Cannabis, Marijuana, Skunk etc..
MOP / OPI Opiates, Heroin.
COC Cocaine, Crack, Charlie.
AMP Amphetamine, speed, whiz
Add to these MTD, methadone, MET Methamphetamine, BZO, Benzodiazepines, and any other local issues which are appropriate.
Most workplace drug testing is performed using a 6 or 7 panel drug testing kit, most incorporated into a collection and storage cup, but you can go as far as a 10 or even a 12-14 drug screen.
POCT Point of care testing
Tests that you run on site, giving immediate positive or negative results are often referred to as POCT’s. These are saliva or urine drug testing kits which screen for drugs and their metabolites in the body fluid added to test membranes in the kits. Both saliva and urine drug test kits are suitable for workplace screening. The accuracy of both is almost identical. Saliva has one major advantage, directly observed sample collection.
All negative screens can be completed in under 10 minutes. These kits are easy to use and have 97-99% accuracy when compared to laboratory tests.
Non Negative POCT results
Workplace testing must move to immediate laboratory confirmation of all non negative POCT results. This is evidential testing, certified to have been conducted using a full workplace chain of custody procedure, and the sample will be tested to UK accredited standards and certified by the receiving lab. The procedure is considered gold standard practice and results will be accepted into employment tribunal hearings if required. Workplace back to lab confirmation chain of custody packs are available from UKDrugTesting and should be purchased at the same time as POCT’s so that they are immediately available on site when you get that first non negative result.
Using an accredited confirmation pack is critical to keeping workplace testing compliant with employment law and defending your actions in tribunal and employment challenges.
Expect a non negative rate of between 4 and 6% as a guide when purchasing.
Pre-employment drug screening
Drug screening potential employees is different from testing an existing employee. Without an employment contract, the decision to test a potential employee rarely has to be justified or defended. Confirmation testing of non negative drug screens is rarely completed unless the offer of employment has been made subject to a medical.
Who can conduct POCT drug screening ?
Any one who is competent to follow a simple procedure is the simple answer. There is no medical training or pseudo medical training requirement. Competence in the procedure and familiarity with the testing kit should be achieved before considering employee testing. Professional packs of POCT’s all come with a detailed manufacturers data sheet and procedure. Additional training is available from the supplier and full drug awareness and drug screening procedure’s and product training is available as a package to employers. Most products also have online product demonstration video training which can be accessed at any time, free of charge, and demonstrate very precisely how to run the POCT kits.
Talk to a UK expert
Need further advise or guidance on which POCT kits are best suited to your workplace environment. We supply some of the UK’s largest and smallest business’s and have a team of experts able to give guidance during UK office hours on 01263 731 168
We also stock the UK’s largest range of onsite drug testing kits combination’s, all warehoused for next working day delivery. We know one size doesn’t fit all, so we also have the ability to manufacture bespoke combination drug tests to meet your requirements, at the lowest cost. And yes we will match or better your existing suppliers price. Guaranteed.