The goal of any testing program is to have trusted, defensible results. Depending on the methodology of testing and the medium being tested (urine/oral fluid), there are varying levels of risk mitigation. It is important to choose a testing method that meets your company’s business needs while providing an acceptable level of risk mitigation for your organization.
Drug and alcohol testing mitigates the risk of injury and property damage and helps companies establish a strong safety culture. That’s all well and dandy, BUT how do you decide upon which testing service(s) to use? Some of the options include urine drug testing, oral fluid/saliva drug testing, and breath alcohol testing. To help with the differentiation of the different types, and possibly helping in making your decision easier, take a look at the pro/con table below!
Types of Tests
Window of Detection
- Highest assurance of reliable results
- Least expensive
- Most flexibility in testing different drugs
- Most likely of all drug testing methods to withstand legal challenge
- Specimen can be adulterated, substituted, or diluted
- Limited window of detection
- Typically 1 to 5 days
- Longer for marijuana in chronic users
- Traditional testing used since 1983
- GC/MS confirmation is considered the gold standard for drug testing
- Acceptable for all testing categories
- Both lab and express testing available
- Provides the ability to confirm initial testing
- Legally defensible results
- Provides a point in time result
- Conforming devices are relatively expensive to purchase
- Not all breath alcohol devices are approved for confirmation testing
- Devices used for testing should be listed on the U.S. DOT conforming products list for defensibility purposes
Oral Fluids – Lab Based
- Sample obtained under direct observation
- Minimal risk of tampering
- Samples can be collected easily in virtually any environment
- Reflects more recent drug use for certain substances
- Drugs and drug metabolites do not remain in oral fluids as long as they do in urine
- Less efficient than other testing methods for detecting marijuana use
- Has not been legally challenged as often as urine testing, so case history is not as accessible as urine testing
- Approximately 10 to 24 hours for THC
- Other substance detection windows are similar to urine testing
- Used primarily for post-accident and reasonable suspicion testing
- Some companies are using for pre-employment
- Not to be used for return-to-duty and follow-up testing
- No reliable express testing options
When reviewing the different test types and collection procedures involved it is important to also think about the needs of the business. Some things to consider may include:
- Being flexible enough to allow for unique testing procedures in unique situations.
- Understanding that while lab-based urinalysis is the “Gold Standard”, there may be situations such as a post-incident where your business need may be more suited to express (POCT) testing in order to return the employee to the worksite sooner, assuming they screen negative.
- Understanding that although oral fluid collections may be appealing, that all collections must be sent to the lab for analysis.
For more information regarding the different drug testing methods/types, and how it could work in with your policy, contact us today!