Testing employees for illicit drugs in the workplace is an essential procedure when those employees are in safety critical roles. When under the influence of a substance, the safety of your employee and the people around them is compromised. Routine drug testing allows you to monitor your workforce and enables you to be prepared to support your employees should an issue become apparent.
In the last 10 years, oral fluid testing has come to the forefront of drug detection in the workplace; however, it is still not as widely used as the more accepted method of urine testing. So how do you know which one to use in your business?
First of all, we need to establish which is the most accurate test.
While neither test is more accurate than the other, what is essential to understand is that they are different tests with differing detection times. Oral fluid is a reflection of what is in the blood stream at the time the sample was taken and therefore will have a detection time of up to a day or two (depending on the drug being looked at). While urine is looking at the accumulation of a drug in the bladder from the last urination. This method therefore has a longer detection time, from a few days up to a week depending on the drug.
Workplace drug testing will always start with an initial screening to determine whether any drug is present in a sample, and any positive results should be sent to the lab for a confirmation test to determine one of two things.
Firstly, was the initial screening test a false positive? Screening tests, for both urine and oral fluid, is based around an antibody-binding technology that relies on recognising a section of a 3D shape. Should something similar in structure to a family of drugs be present, the antibody may bind to that substance and label it as a positive result. All screening tests, whether urine or oral fluid, should be taken as an indication due to this phenomenon.
Secondly, the confirmation will be able to break down the initial positive result from a family of drugs to the specific drug taken. For example, codeine is a member of the opiate family, as is Heroin. However, if a donor was to take codeine, their initial screening test would be positive for opiates, despite the fact that they haven’t taken an illegal substance. The confirmation tests for both urine and oral fluid use a mass-spectrometry method, which allows you to determine the amount and type of chemicals present, allowing you to be able to determine the difference between codeine and heroin from the initial positive result in this example. This makes confirmation tests legally defensible due to their accuracy and specificity.
So we have established that both oral fluid and urine are equally accurate tests. But which one is best for you to use?
This is determined by what facilities you already have in place. Urine testing requires a toilet facility in addition to a quiet room to be set up in-line with certain guidelines and standards so that the test cannot be adulterated. It can also require an occupational nurse to conduct the collection in some instances, as you would be effectively arranging a medical setting. Oral fluid on the other hand just requires a quiet room and a trained collector as only a swab is collected. This sample is collected in front of the donor and is therefore extremely difficult to adulterate.
BP Associates is also able to provide a complete service from initial discussions and logistics to implementation of company policy and procedure. As a totally independent service, BP Associates has at its disposal a National Collection Service of collection technicians who are trained in Chain of Custody procedures and protocols to a standard recommended as best practice by the UK Laboratory Guidelines for Legally Defensible Workplace Drug Testing. Hybrid solutions are also available, whereby on-site staff are trained to collect samples themselves.
We will be pleased to discuss any queries with your. Feel free to contact us.