Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing – FAQ’s

Workplace testing questions you may have

Frequently asked questions

We hope to answer any questions you may have here, but if not please get in touch on 0140 29466 and you can speak to one of our dedicated workplace testing experts.

Is drug and alcohol testing an invasion of privacy?

No, it is not an invasion of an employee’s privacy, as long as the testing programme is carried out fairly and within the agreed policy guidelines.

How confidential is the testing?

The data obtained are kept confidential at all times. AlphaBiolabs and the employer keep the test results confidential and records cannot be released without the consent of the employee.

What is chain of custody?

Chain of custody begins with the collection of the sample, and continues right through to the final reporting of test results to employers. It is a monitoring process to prevent tampering of any sample or test results. It is designed to link, beyond doubt, the sample and result to the tested employee.

What drugs are tested for?

A standard workplace panel will include:

Amphetamines MDMA
Barbiturates Methadone
Benzodiazepine Methamphetamine
Buprenorphine Opiates
Cannabinoids Phencyclidine
Cocaine Propoxyphene
Tramadol Ketamine
What makes a test positive?

A positive result means that a drug has been used but will not indicate frequency of use or when it was used last. We use cut-off limits in the laboratory for drug testing. A positive result is a concentration greater than the cut-off limit for that particular substance.

What are cut-off levels?

Cut-off levels refer to the minimum concentration of a drug in a sample, which can be deemed positive. AlphaBiolabs follows the guidelines and cut-off values set out by the European Workplace Drug Testing Society.

Is drug testing reliable?

AlphaBiolabs has been carrying out DNA, drug and alcohol testing for the legal profession for many years. All our legal tests follow a strict chain of custody.

What happens when the employee is tested?

When the donor provides a sample, this is either tested on-site or the collector will seal the sample in a tamper-evident bag, complete the necessary documentation, and prepare the specimen for transport to the laboratory.

Will the employee be required to give a urine sample in the presence of a collector?

No, the employee provides a sample in a secure toilet facility which has been predetermined and prepared by the trained sample collector.

What if an employee declines to be tested?

Some companies will commence disciplinary procedures but this varies according to individual drug and alcohol testing policies. Some policies would classify this as an automatic fail.

What facilities should be provided for collecting urine samples?

The collection site should have a private room, a toilet and a sink. It should be a restricted area during the testing process.

What if an employee is unable to give a urine sample?

Only a small amount of urine is required (about 30 ml). If this isn’t possible, the employee would be given fluids so they should be able to provide a sample within a few hours. If they are still unable to do so, an alternative test may be offered (e.g., oral fluid). A workplace drug and alcohol testing policy should contain procedures to follow in this instance.

Is introducing workplace drug and alcohol testing expensive?

No, introducing a drug and alcohol testing policy in the workplace is not expensive. The company will actually gain greater productivity, less accidents and subsequent litigation.

How long can a drug be detected in urine?

This depends on the drug being tested for, the amount of drug taken and the individual’s metabolic rate. In the case of cannabis, the detection window can be up to several weeks.

How long can a drug be detected in oral fluid?

Oral fluid testing will usually show any drug use in the previous few days. The detection window is generally shorter than that of urine and will depend on the person’s metabolism, and the type and amount of drug taken.

Is there any preparation for the test?

No, the employee should continue eating and drinking normally and keep taking any prescribed medication. Prescription medicine should be declared to the sample collector.

Can an employee challenge the results?

Yes, an employee has the right to challenge a positive result and ask for a retest. This will be performed on the secondary portion of the original sample, which the laboratory still holds.

Depending on the company policy, the employee may have to cover the cost of the retest.

What time period does hair testing cover?

A standard window of detection for head hair is 90 days. However, longer and shorter timeframes are possible. Body hair samples show an approximately 12-month timeframe.

How soon after use can a drug be detected in hair?

It takes approximately 7–10 days from the time of drug use for the affected hair to grow above the scalp.

Body hair growth rates are generally slower and cannot be used to determine a specific timeframe of drug use.

Can tests be run on people with little or no hair?

Hair can be collected from several locations to obtain the required amount. In addition, body hair may be used as a substitute to head hair.

How fast does head hair grow?

Head hair grows on average approximately 1 cm per month.