The misuse of drugs, particularly by workers involved in safety-sensitive jobs, could have devastating effects on the people and businesses around them. As a result, companies have developed drug testing procedures to ensure the safety of employees and the people they work with. Read on to learn about the different types of drug testing for UK businesses, and to what standards these drug tests should be held.

Drug testing in the workplace

In their most recent drug misuse report, the Office for National Statistics estimated that 1 in 11 adults had taken at least one drug in the past year ending March 2020. With this, cannabis was found to be the most commonly used drug, followed by cocaine. Unfortunately, substance abuse is an issue in the UK that can impact an individual’s ability to work productively and safely in their workplace. For this reason, drug testing in the workplace is an effective tool to determine whether employees are fit to work.

Which industries utilise drug testing?

There are certain workplaces in which it is more important that employees are in peak health than others – and this is often the case when the safety of employees and members of the public could be impacted by substances.
The most common workplaces where drug testing is recommended include:

  • Aviation
  • Construction
  • Oil and gas
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Rail

These industries often already have workplace drug testing programmes in place, since employees have a greater responsibility to work safely in order to avoid accidents that could be potentially fatal. For those in control of vehicles or machinery, being under the influence of drugs could put not only the worker themselves, but other people in danger.
It’s also worth noting that in certain industries, such as the Rail industry, there are legal and contractual requirements set by leading industry bodies to ensure that rigorous drug testing takes place.
You can explore further occupations where testing is prevalent on our workplace drug testing page, including products and services on offer.

How does a drug test work?

Drug testing can be broken down into an initial screening stage, where a qualifiable result is found, and a confirmation stage, where a quantifiable result is discovered. The initial screening stage can be completed either as an onsite test or through a laboratory.
If a non-negative (positive) result is found, then the confirmation stage must be undertaken wherein the sample is sent to a lab to confirm that the results of the instant test are correct. For workplaces, in order to obtain a legally defensible result the sample should be sent to a lab to confirm. You can learn more about how drug testing works through our dedicated blog post.

Types of drug testing kits

Urine drug test

A urine test is the most common option used by businesses to test for drugs. This type of test works by assessing drug metabolites in urine. Drug test results may show as positive for weeks after someone has taken a drug, meaning that they might not be under the influence of drugs at the time of the test.
At ITS, we offer urine drug test kits that assess for either 10 or 13 different types of drugs in a person’s system.  Accurate, sensitive, and specific results are easy to read after as little as 30 seconds through colour-coded strips assigned to each drug.

Saliva drug test

This swab drug test works by using a saliva (oral fluid) sample to assess the metabolites of drugs. Simply swipe the inside of your cheek or underneath your tongue with the swab and an indicator strip will change colour.
You can find 6-panel or 10-panel oral fluid drug tests from ITS, as well as a combined drug and alcohol test. Saliva testing works more effectively in measuring recent drug use, such as the previous 24 hours.

Which drug testing kits are the best for your business?

There are different benefits of using either urine or saliva tests, so it’s up to you to decide which is the best fit for your business.
Urine tests are a cheaper option if you’re looking to keep costs to a minimum. Despite this, urine test samples have been known to be ‘faked’ in the past, where people use different liquids other than urine in order to receive a negative result. Whereas with a saliva test, individuals can be observed while they’re collecting their sample which removed the issue of tampering or shy bladder. Completing a drug test at work is made simple with a saliva test as they’re easier to administer.
Nevertheless, our urine tests are available with adulterant test strips included which have a built-in specimen validity test to authenticate the sample. If you already have a supply of urine kits without the built-in adulterant test strips it’s recommended that you order adulteration test strips separately in order to ensure the samples are genuine.
Differences between the two tests are also found when you consider how long you want your test to measure drugs for. If you’re looking to find whether employees have only used drugs recently, such as in the last 24 hours, then the saliva test may be a more suitable option. Urine samples can pick up drug use that occurred days or weeks ago.

Drug and alcohol policy

If you’re going to test for drug and alcohol use in the workplace, it is critical you have a  robust drug and alcohol policy in place prior to doing so. This policy should reflect the company rules, details on what will happen if you fail a test, how employees can access assistance and more. Without this policy, individuals are not obligated to take part in random or for-cause drug testing at work.
This drug and alcohol policy is usually included in a full health and safety policy when an employee joins the company and signs their contract. It is important that the correct information is included in this policy to ensure the company has the necessary legal backing and that all situations are covered to ensure employees are treated equally.
In order to generate a comprehensive workplace policy, we suggest getting external assistance through drug and alcohol policy review, improvement, or writing. If problems arise, this documentation outlining drug use problems is essential for your workplace.

Support for employees struggling with substance use

If a positive result is found through testing, not only is it important to have the necessary disciplinary actions pre-determined, but it’s also vital to give employees the opportunity to get support if they are suffering with a drug problem. This includes having a method in place for signposting employees to support services, as well as making individuals aware of how to disclose when they have a problem.

Drug and Alcohol Policy support for businesses

At Innovative Testing Solutions, we’re specialists in drug and alcohol policies. We offer services that include writing policies from scratch and consulting on existing policies to ensure that they’re robust and fit for purpose.
For example, many UK businesses are unaware that a lot of mass market drug testing products are manufactured to US standards, rather than the European standards ITS’ drug tests are manufactured to which have much more relevant cut-off levels that are legally defensible in the UK.

Buy drug test kits online

If you’re looking to buy drug test kits for workplace testing in the UK, ITS offer a great range of urine and saliva tests. Ensure your employees are safe to work and prevent accidents from happening through accurate drug testing.