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          Drug and Alcohol Testing

Posted By Stephanie Hancox on 2017-07-05 08:49

Drug and alcohol misuse within the workplace can potentionally cause severe negative repercussions upon not only the individual abusing alcohol and drug substances; but also upon their co-workers the companies productivity and efficency, along with the companies reputation. Workplace drug and alcohol testing can protect your employees and your business.  

So your aware of the moral obligations to protecting your employees but are you aware of your legal obligations?

"It is an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 for any person knowingly to permit the production, supply or use of controlled substances on their premises except in specified circumstances (e.g. when they have been prescribed by a doctor).

You should also be aware of duties under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Transport and Works Act 1992. Drivers of road vehicles must not be under the influence of drugs while driving, attempting to drive or when they are in charge of a vehicle. Certain rail, tram and other guided transport system workers must not be unfit through drugs while working on the system. The operator of such a system must exercise all due diligence to avoid those workers being unfit."

Successfully tackling drug misuse can benefit both your business and your employees. For example by:....

 saving on the cost of recruiting and training new employees to replace those whose employment might be terminated because of untreated drug misuse;
reducing the cost of absenteeism or impaired productivity;
creating a more productive environment by offering support to those employees who declare a drug-related problem,    improving employee morale;
reducing the risk of accidents caused by impaired judgement;
enhancing the public perception of your organisation as a responsible employer;
contributing to society’s efforts to combat drug misuse. 

What types of testing to we perform?

We provide two methods of testing, saliva testing and urine analysis. Of the two methods, saliva testing is probably the easiest and least intrusive method.  

Saliva Testing...

  • Will show recent and longer term use of drugs, from minutes out to several days for cocaine, opiates and amphetamines but possibly out to 5 days for cannabis.
  • Technically non invasive but simply inoffensive to the innocent majority.
  • Screening can be carried out by men on women or vice versa.
  • Collecting both samples is quick and easy, taking 1 to 2 minutes compared to approximately 10 – 15 minutes for urine collection. The result will be displayed in a similar time to urine tests’.
  • Quicker and significantly cleaner screening process than urine with no handling, privacy or disposal concerns.

Urine Testing...

Urine sampling follows the same chain of custody standards
Urine takes between 10-15 mins to sample and read
Does take longer periods of time to saliva,
Toilet has to be secured. Taps need to be sealed. Remove chemicals such as hand cream, soap, etc.
Search the employee. Check pockets, phone and finger nails for chemicals that could be dropped in the urine.
Check whether employee has stashed a clean sample of urine under clothes.
If worker is female, a woman will be required to do the search.
As a screen, it is a tricky and time consuming method to first obtain the unadulterated sample of urine. Several systems exist to screen urine, from dip cards and cassettes to In-Cup devices. If the urine sampled by the screener does not remain separate from the main sample, then this invalidates that sample for later use as a confirmation sample.

Are they're any symptoms of drug and alcohol misuse which i should be looking out for?...

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified the following drugs as the five drugs that are more commonly found in the workplace. These are referred to as the “5”. NIDA 5 :.....
  Amphetamines/Methamphetamines   AKA Speed
Cocaine                                                      AKA Coke
           Phencyclidine (PCP)                                 AKA Angel Dust
 Marijuana                                                  AKA Weed
  Opiates (Heroin)                                       AKA Smack

What are the main symptoms?...

Remember: all the signs shown may be caused by other factors, such as stress, and should be regarded only as indications that an employee may be misusing drugs. 


Edginess, Nervous, Restless
Twitching, jerking movements (loss of motor skills)
Itching, scratching (they feel like bugs are crawling on them)
Act very paranoid – feel people are out to get them and can make the individual very aggressive and violent
Sweat a lot – even when it’s cold
Rapid, irrational and slurred speech
Grinding their teeth
Runny nose - Sometimes bloody nose for no reason
Sudden weight loss (no desire to eat)
Sickly looking
Skin sores on the arms and face
Rotten teeth and gums
Poor personal hygiene
Extreme/bizarre behaviour


Extreme excitability, twitching, jerky movements
Chronic fatigue
Runny nose - Bloody nose
Grinding their teeth
Rapid & Irrational Speech


Lack of motivation
Dry mouth and throat
Increased appetite –”munchies”
Impaired coordination, concentration and memory
Impaired motor ability (Risk to Health & Safety)
Deteriorating performance

Opiates (Heroin)

Short lived euphoria followed by drowsiness
Chills - Sweats
Runny Nose
Skin Sores, Sickly Looking, Weight Loss

Who Can I Talk to if I'm worried about the possibility of e misuse of Drugs and Alcohol?...

National Drugs Help Line Tel: 0800 776600 Free, confidential, 24 hours a day
National workplace organisations HSE Information Services Caerphilly Business Park Caerphilly CF83 3GG Tel: 08701 545500 (HSE’s Infoline) or contact your nearest HSE office (see the telephone directory). The Employment Medical Advisory Service of HSE can advise on all aspects of occupational ill health including drug misuse.
Drug Action Teams Over one hundred Drug Action Teams have been established across England to implement the strategy at a local level. They are made up of senior personnel from health, local authorities and the criminal justice agencies. Their role is to agree local priorities and resources for all relevant agencies, both statutory and voluntary. Drug Action Teams are helped by Drug Reference Groups which are made up of people who have professional expertise and/or local knowledge. Drug Reference Groups can include representatives from the business community. For details of your nearest Drug Action Team contact: Drugs Strategy Directorate 50 Queen Anne's Gate London SW1H 9AT Tel: 020 7273 3765 Website:

At HealthScreen we offer drug and alcohol screening in the workplace, our system is easy to institute and we offer advice and assistance to you on how you can implement your policy. If you are interested, or if you would just like to ask a few questions or get some information, call us on 01455 234 600 or contact us online now. 

Contact Us Now

To arrange a Drug and Alcohol testing for your workforce, Get in touch today to learn more about the tests themeselves and how we can help you create a safer and healthier place for your employees to work within.