Sep 03


Driven by a need to ensure health, safety and well-being of employees, workplace drug screening has become increasingly common in the UK.  However, there are still a number of myths surrounding the practice, which can cause apprehension amongst those staff subject to testing.

Where is the Danger?

Many people assume that the impact of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is a very minor issue.  We have all seen Christmas drink-driving campaigns and know that drink-driving and drug-driving is not safe, so can’t we rely on people’s judgement?  Unfortunately, approximately half of all road and industrial fatalities in the UK involve drink, drugs, or both.  Current statistics show that over 70% of drug users are in full-time employment, meaning that the average drug user is, in effect, the average employee.  Recent Home Office statistics put the number of 16 to 29-year-olds who used drugs in the last year at just under 50%.  So this is not somebody else’s problem, it affects every workplace.  Whilst the use of drugs does not automatically mean irresponsibility within the workplace, it does greatly increase the likelihood of accidents, absenteeism, reduced productivity, damage to plant and equipment, litigation and a higher turnover of staff.

So What Can You Do?  Isn’t Workplace Drug Screening Disruptive?

Many organisations only conduct testing in the event of an accident, incident, or when they have reasonable grounds for concern that an employee is unfit for duty.  Given the wide variety of potential dangers within heavy industrial workplaces, many employers believe it perfectly reasonable to carry out testing on these occasions.

However, random workplace drug screening takes drug testing a stage further, whereby a percentage of the workforce is randomly selected to provide a sample.  This sounds invasive, but it is very common for only 5% of the workforce to be screened up to once per year.  This means that only one in 20 people will be screened, or as an individual, your chance of being tested would be once every 20 years.  Miraculously, this kind of minimal screening has been proven to lower positivity rates from as high as 46% down to as little as 2% in just a few months.  This just shows, that the average drug user within the workplace is not addicted, but is simply making lifestyle choices which can be changed.

Could This be Regarded as an Invasion of Civil Liberties and Human Rights?

Whilst some employees can be initially resistant to the prospect of screening, the majority understand that this is being carried out to ensure the safety of everybody within the workplace.  As long as the level of testing is proportionate to the dangers within the workplace and does not specifically interfere with staff leisure time, it does not represent a threat to people’s human rights.  In the USA, over 98% of the top 1000 companies screen their staff without issue.

Where is the Harm in Using Drugs Outside of Work?

Many drugs have developed a softer image through their exposure in national newspapers and television.  Indeed, phrases such as “recreational cocaine use” do a great deal of harm in misleading people.  For some individuals, cocaine is more addictive than heroin and cannot be used recreationally without significant risk of addiction.  Addiction aside, cocaine purity has dropped from an average 45% purity in 2004 to approximately 25% purity in 2010 (with purity as low as 9% reported).  Shockingly, the cutting agents used to bulk out the cocaine range from local anaesthetics, cancer-causing chemicals, pet worming powders, through to cockroach insecticide.  The bottom line is you can never trust a drug dealer.

Even drugs previously considered to be soft drugs still carry dangers.  Currently in the UK, 92% of people admitted for treatment for mental illness are heavy cannabis users.  With this in mind, workplace drug screening truly has the potential to tackle wider social and health problems as it becomes commonplace.

For more information on workplace drug testing and home drug testing kits, visit

About the author: Christopher Evans is the Technical Director of Drug-Aware Ltd, a supplier of drug and alcohol test equipment, laboratory services and drug awareness training.  He has trained literally thousands of delegates across hundreds of companies, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the British police and hospitals across the UK.

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Nov 11

Hair Drug Test

All about the Hair Drug Test Process and when Hair Drug Testing is Suitable.

It is becoming increasingly common for employers and the courts to ask for a Hair Drug Test. Testing for illegal substances in hair gives you a greater time frame of detection than urine, blood and saliva. In fact, you can often detect drugs in hair for several months – if not years, if the hair is long enough. The most common request we have for hair testing is a 3 month or 90 day history of drug use or abstinence, requiring a 3 cm (1 ¼ inches) length of hair sample. It is possible to test less than one centimetre up to any length of hair sample available, however we have to section longer hair samples into maximum 3 cm sections, to maintain the sensitivity of the hair test. As a result, the profile of drug use can range from approximately 7 or 8 days history up to in excess of 2 years (if the person’s hair exceeds 24cm in length).

How much hair is required to carry out a hair test?

About 50 strands of hair are necessary – obtained from the crown of the head, which is about the width of a thin pencil, or perhaps the tip of a shoe lace. There are typically in excess of 100,000 strands of hair on the head of the average person, so this should not make any cosmetic difference, unless the individual’s hair is very short.

Hair Drug Test benefits:

  • Hair Drug Tests detect drug use over months, not days.
  • Collecting a sample for a Hair Drug Test is very simple and non-invasive.
  • Monitoring abstinence is possible over a length of time.
  • Hair testing results stand up in court.

Are there disadvantages to carrying out a Hair Drug Test?

The two main disadvantages to hair testing are cost, and the time frame necessary to get results. It takes several days to digest the hair sample to a stage where it can be analysed, so we have to quote up to 10 working days on any hair analysis. In terms of cost, we charge £65 plus VAT for the sample preparation (which takes about 3 days) and then £45 plus VAT per drug per section. There are a choice of about a dozen drug classes, but 1 or 2 main ones are common.

So why choose Drug-Aware for your Hair Drug Test requirements?

Hair Drug TestingAt Drug-Aware, we pride ourselves on providing a total solution when it comes to organising a Hair Drug Test. We offer technical support in relation to the test, and are happy to explain everything (in complete confidence) to give you a full understanding of the process. The certificate of analysis we provide will stand up in court as long as our sample collection guidelines have been followed correctly. Contact us for details.

If you wish to proceed, we require credit or debit card details for payment (or a cheque) and the donor’s name and date of birth. Contact us to provide the information by telephone. We then issue a hair test collection pack and arrange a suitable method of hair sample collection. This may be the donor’s GP, solicitor or one of our trained collectors. The test then takes up to 10 working days – although a week is more common.

If you would prefer to use urine drug testing or saliva drug tests instead, visit our drug test kits page or our home drug tests FAQ page.  Alternatively, you may be interested in drug awareness training or even alcohol testing?

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Jul 17

Saliva Drug Test – Oral Fluid Drug TestingSaliva Drug Test - Oral Fluid Drug Testing

Saliva Drug Test Kits or Oral Fluid Drug Testing Kits are a new generation of drug testing kits designed to simplify the sample collection process. They eliminate any requirement for same-sex collectors when a drugs test is undertaken and allow the sample collection process to be fully observed. Non invasive drug testing has taken a while to get here, but the oral drug tests we provide are truly excellent. They are a one-step device which gives saliva drug test results in just 5 minutes for the six most commonly abused drugs.

Saliva Drug Testing Detection Times

Oral drug testing will never replace urine drug testing or hair drug tests because each type of test gives you different information. Hair testing detects drug use over a period of months, urine testing detects drug use for a period of days and saliva drug tests measure a drug history in hours. For monitoring abstinence, urine drug testing is still the most reliable method of testing, but sometimes oral fluid drug testing can provide an excellent backup – especially if toilet facilities are unavailable.

What drugs will the Oratect 3 Saliva Drug Test Detect?

This device is designed to detect Amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, Cannabis / Marijuana (THC), Cocaine, Methamphetamines (including Ecstasy / MDMA) and Opiates (including Heroin).

How to use the Oratect III Saliva Drug Test

When you remove the Oratect III saliva test from its sealed foil pouch, you will see that there are two blue lines visible in the results windows. These are designed to indicate that sufficient sample has been collected. (As saliva / oral fluid travels through the device, the blue lines will migrate with it – showing that the test has been completed successfully.)

We provide consent forms with all of our tests. Contact us for more details. To collect a saliva / oral fluid sample, simply remove the blue cap from the device and ask the patient to open their mouth. Swab the inside of their cheek in a circular motion approximately 15 times. Swab the inside of their other cheek in the same manner. Swab the top of their tongue approximately 15 times, then repeat under their tongue. This process stimulates the production of saliva. Ask the patient to hold the saliva drug test device under their tongue, where the exposed pad will absorb the oral fluid which will have gathered under their tongue.

After around 30 seconds, you will see the blue lines starting to migrate up the results window, being carried by the saliva / oral fluid. At this point, you may ask the patient to remove the device and replace the blue cap.

How To Read Saliva Drug Test Results

Reading the test results is a simple process. The test results are displayed on two test strips. Each strip will show a control line (marked C) upon completion – to show that the test worked and was not adulterated in any way. The drug test results appear as a series of coloured lines. Each line represents a different drug. If a visible line is present for each corresponding drug, the test is negative. If a line is missing after 5 minutes, then that corresponding drug is considered to be positive. Therefore, a fully negative test will display 8 coloured lines – 2 control lines and 6 test lines.

For businesses or health care professionals, please contact us for further information and a quotation. Private individuals can buy online from our dedicated home drug tests web site.

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