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Drug and Alcohol testing

Conduct drug and alcohol testing correctly. Find out about the different times you can get tests done for your business and how you can do it right.

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Drug and Alcohol testing

Due to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, as employers you have the duty to ensure a safe work place and safe system of work. Drug and alcohol misuse comes into this as there should be a clear set of rules set on the use of alcohol and drugs whilst working.

Most drug testing methods don’t actually test for the presence of drugs since they break down quickly. Instead, they look for leftover chemicals called metabolites.

Types of tests available



This is when a test is done prior to the employees start date. This type of testing is favoured by most companies as it is only needing to be carried out once. It’s usually done by taking a urine sample so it’s quick and easy to do.

Random tests

To carry out a random drug test, various employees will have to be selected randomly and tested. Many companies have claimed random drug testing has been a major deterrent for drug use.

With-cause tests

This is when an incident has occurred that has caused injury or damage or almost caused issues. It can be done automatically after the incident or sometimes employers will have it done if they have suspicions that drugs played a role in the issue. This can protect employers from liability if the employee injures themselves as the injury could have been due to being under the influence.


This can also be referred to as the ‘mouth swab’ or ‘fluids’ drug test. It’s a lot easier to administer so these types of tests are done more often. Also, it’s effective as samples are almost impossible to tamper with.

This is the least invasive method of testing as it’s just a collection stick with a sponge or absorbent pad on the end that will swab the inside of your employees cheeky. Samples are then analysed to find any potential substances.

This type of test is good because it doesn’t require much preparation. Usually, your employers will just be told not to eat or drink anything for the 10 minutes prior to the test.


This test is usually known as the ‘urine drug screen’ or ‘UDS’. It analyses urine to detect any presence of any certain illegal drugs and usually screens for: Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, Marijuana, Cocaine, PCP, Methadone or Opioids.

When doing this test, your employees will need to leave all belongings in another room and empty pockets. Then, they would need to clean themselves with a cloth provided and urinate into a specimen cup. Our experts will check the temperature of the sample to make sure it’s in the expected range.

How to carry out tests in the right manner

  • There should be a 28 day period before a testing regime is introduced to allow time for employees to come forward with any concerns or problems.
  • Make sure it fits the agreed workplace alcohol and drug policy that should be in place to support anyone with a drug or alcohol problem.
  • Get consent from the person being tested before taking any samples from them.
  • Ensure Photo Identification is added to the consent form.
  • Random testing of employees should be justifiable for example, if there is a strong health and safety reason to support it.

What happens if the sample has positive readings?

A positive indication is now classed as a non-negative sample prior to the test going back to lab. If the sample has indications of a non-negative reading a chain of custody form will need to be completed to send the sample back to the lab. The reason the sample is sent back to the lab is to ensure it is not a false-positive sample. It could be a false positive for people who are on strong medication as this may flag up as a non-negative sample, when the sample is sent back to the lab this will be analysed to see if it is illegal substance use or whether it is legal substances such as medication.

The initial test will show the results immediately as a negative or non-negative sample however the back to lab sample results will be sent up to 30 days after the sample has been taken. This process is the same for urine or saliva samples. The back to lab sample will also be halved. One will be frozen and the other will be analysed this is in case the employee wishes to dispute the result so we have another sample to test if further action is required.


Please contact us for more information and a quote!

Call: 01455 243700

Email: admin@healthscreenuk.co.uk

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