Updated: Jun 10
In-house drug and alcohol testing is when an organisation uses their own staff and equipment to conduct testing, rather than engage an external provider. Often this approach is viewed as a cost-effective and easy way to implement drug and alcohol testing in a workplace. However, in our experience, in-house testing is not as straight-forward and can in fact, raise more issues than it solves.
Earlier this year, we received a request to complete a drug test for a new client. However, as we spoke further, we realised that it was just the chain of custody collection that needed to be done. Following their in-house testing policy, the WHS coordinator had already conducted the drug and alcohol test. The problem was the worker had returned a non-negative result on the drug test and as per the Australian Standard, this result needed to be confirmed by a laboratory. The company did not know how to complete the laboratory collection, nor did they have a relationship with a lab to do the testing. Hence their call to us.
Making matters worse, when our collector arrived to complete the testing, they realised that an expired drug test kit had been used in the initial test, and that the worker had not provided a photo ID, nor had they given signed consent. So, the sample was neither collected nor tested to the Australian Standard. Then, when tested again by our collector, the worker returned a negative drug test result. As you can imagine, this led to a lot more questions and difficult conversations.
We share this experience because workplaces often pursue in-house drug and alcohol testing without a full understanding of what is required for testing to be done properly. If your company is finding it difficult to conduct your own workplace alcohol and drug testing in-house, to ensure health and safety you should consider outsourcing your workplace drug and alcohol testing to a third party because of the following four reasons:
If an employee shows a non-negative result on an initial drug test, a confirmatory test is required. Depending on the type of testing in that workplace, the employee’s oral or urine sample needs to be sent to a lab for testing and reporting. To do so, employers considering in-house drug testing must have a relationship with a lab. This not only increases cost but also administrative hassle.
Cost-saving. The cost of in-house drug testing includes not only hard costs such as alcohol and drug testing kits. The drug and alcohol testing must be carried out by a staff member who is trained and competent in testing. For organisations with multiple locations, it will require multiple labs, staff members and other administrative details.
Saves employee time. In general, workplace drug and alcohol testing are not the core function of a business or occupational health, especially when standard policies require only monthly or once every few months. In the long run, it is costly and time consuming to hire and train a person just to collect drug tests.
Objective drug testing. Workers can be reluctant to disclose medication use with another employee due to privacy concerns.
Using the independent, expert, third-party testers ensure the testing process is done in a way that is scientifically, ethically, and medically robust; free of accusations or favouritism; assures confidentiality and privacy and, in the worst-case scenario, will be upheld in a court of law.
In-house testing can be complicated and the perceived cost savings or convenience can be overwhelming if it is not done properly.
If you are currently managing or looking to introduce an in-house testing program, we have the expertise and experience to help you ensure your testing is done properly. Reach out today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 230 231
DASA (Drug and Alcohol Solutions Australia) is proud to be leading the way in workplace drug and alcohol services throughout Australia. Whether your need is for workplace drug testing and workplace alcohol testing, advice on drug and alcohol policy or ideas on how to communicate your workplace expectations, policies and procedures to your staff, DASA can help. We have the experience, technical expertise and people to lead you to the right solution.