Is drug and alcohol screening in the workplace an invasion of an employees privacy?
Not if there is a drug and alcohol policy in place. All employees are made aware of the company rules in relation to substance abuse and the consequences if drugs and alcohol are identified during screening. Strict guidelines protect the health and safety of everyone on site and is widely encouraged by trade unions and legal professionals.
Are drug and alcohol results available to the employer?
Anything that is discussed between an employee and collection officer is private and confidential. However, non-negative test results are always available at the time of screening when the employee is in a safety critical role. Consent will always be obtained from employee to enable the screening officer to disclose test results to senior management, HR or the Captain on board, as per the terms and conditions of the company drug and alcohol policy and the contract of employment.
What is the Chain of Custody and how does it protect the individual?
The Chain of Custody protects both the employee and the employees sample. It begins with the collection officer who collects the sample right through to test results being verified by the lab and relayed to the employer. The test sample is separated into two tamper proof containers which are securely sealed in a container with tamper proof labels that are signed and dated by the individual. These samples are then packaged in a tamper proof envelope with relevant documents unique to the sample. All paperwork related to the donor is marked with an exclusive bar code. Should the seals on the containers be broken, or the seal on the tamper proof envelope be broken before it reaches the lab then the sample will be destroyed and the donor will be requested to provide a new sample.
What happens to the urine samples?
All samples are sent to the UKAS accredited lab where a technician will analyze sample A and freeze sample B on receipt. The sample marked B will be frozen for a period of 12 months and should the employee disagree with the results from sample A then they are quite within their rights to ask for a second opinion and sample B will be used for this purpose. The donor can instruct the lab to forward their sample to a lab of their choice. However, the donor will never receive their sample back and all the costs incurred in the retest are at the donors own expense.
What drugs do the urine kits screen for?
There are many drugs available to individuals and detecting them can be difficult without screening. Screening kits can be tailored to meet your company drug and alcohol policy.
How can the lab technician tell if a sample is positive?
The technician processes the sample for drugs and a result is ascertained depending on the concentration in relation to the cut off limits for each drug detected. When a substance has been verified by the technician it then becomes a positive result. However, the frequency and last time the substance was used cannot be identified.
Are drug screening results dependable in a court of law?
All collection officers are trained to collect the donors sample and complete the Chain of Custody and all results are acceptable in a court of law should the individual be charged with possession or supplying to other workmates.
How is a sample obtained?
The collection officer will obtain a sample from the donor under strict collection procedure. All personal belongings will be taken from the individual and put into a security bag which is sealed. They will be asked to wash their hands and escorted to the toilet where a sample will be made. The collection officer does not observe the donation. Once the donation has been made the container will be sealed and analyzed. Either a non-negative or negative result will be then reported back to senior management, HR or the Captain on board.
What if an employee declines to provide a sample?
Depending on the company drug and alcohol policy an employee could face disciplinary action. It could be perceived by an employer that that failing to provide a sample will be treated as a positive result and an automatic fail, job loss is often the outcome. Providing a sample is always encouraged by the collection officer and will allow up to two more hours for the donor to provide.
Where does the collection officer carry out the screening?
The employer often has a room that can be used for drug and alcohol screening. A first aid room or private office is usually made available for the duration of the procedure. The collection officer will also need access to a secure toilet facility which can be locked between donors to ensure the toilet is not tampered with between screenings.
Is drug and alcohol screening expensive?
Companies often find that when they introduce a strict drug and alcohol policy it can be very beneficial to everyone who works there. Making the cost of screening for substance abuse a cost effective way of increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism and personal injury which could lead to litigation.