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In certain industries, such as those where employees need to make safety-critical decisions, it is important that employees are free from the influence of drugs or alcohol. Whilst it is impossible to prevent employees from taking drugs or using alcohol, ensuring that they are not under the influence is something that employers can actively manage in different ways. So what are the types of drug testing procedures available in the workplace?

Pre-employment
This is when an employer screens all potential employees or applicants prior to them being employed. Job applicants have fewer employment rights, and are not covered by grievance or appeals procedures. They also do not have the support of a union. Unfortunately some job applicants have claimed that they have been denied employment because of a prescription drug that they were taking but were not given the opportunity to challenge the result. The main type of testing favoured by many companies is urine testing however testing results can be easily manipulated. Primarily because, when individual provide a urine sample it’s done in private, which therefore can allow for an individual dilute or substitute his/her urine sample.

Post incident
This is when an employer tests employees after there has been an incident that causes an injury, damage or a near miss. Sometimes this is done automatically after an incident, in other cases it is only done if the supervisor suspects that drugs may have played a part. Post incident testing serves to protect employers, employees and the general public.  It also helps Health & Safety teams to gain an understanding into how the incident occurred and what measures are needed to be put in place to ensure that the incident doesn’t happen again.

Random
Random testing involves selecting a number of employees at random at regular intervals and testing them. Drugs testing companies claim that it is a major deterrent, although in the USA, where it is far more common, it has been claimed that users are more likely to switch from cannabis (which remains in the urine for much longer) to harder drugs which disappear from the system much quicker.  Either way in today’s fast paced world companies need to ensure the safety of their employees, customers, contractors and suppliers & the only way to do this is by conducting regular drug & alcohol screening.