5 April 2019

Simplifying Drug Testing for Construction Firms

Intelligent Fingerprinting showcased their revolutionary drug testing system for the construction sector at Build UK: A Smart Future, incorporating the AGM last year. Darren Hamshaw from Intelligent Fingerprinting has looked at how the construction market is reacting to fingerprint-based drug screening.

“According to the latest EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) country drug report, cannabis use among young UK adults (15-34) was 11.5% in 2018, while cocaine usage in the same group was at 4%. That’s not the highest usage rate in Europe, but it does show just how widespread drug misuse is and raises concerns when it comes to health and safety in the workplace. EMCDDA also reports [1] that almost 1 in 10 UK workers admits to recent drug use.

Drug testing clearly has a role to play in discouraging and identifying drug use amongst employees, particularly as tackling drug misuse is an important employer requirement in order to maintain a safe workplace. Since joining Intelligent Fingerprinting I’ve found that this is particularly the case in the construction sector, where any kind of employee impairment is worrying – not just for staff, but also for a firm’s customers and the wider general public. In a high-risk environment such as the construction business, there’s clearly a requirement for firms to deliver on their corporate responsibility obligations.

Because fingerprint drug testing is quick and easy to deploy – unlike traditional urine or saliva-based tests that can be invasive, time-consuming and undignified for both testers and employees alike – Intelligent Fingerprinting’s new approach is certainly attracting attention from construction businesses.  And because our portable drug screening system supports all forms of employee drug testing – from pre-employment screens and random drug tests to post-accident investigations – construction firms are finding that fingerprint-based drug tests provide a cost-effective and practical way of supporting their health and safety initiatives and enabling their drug misuse policies.

Supporting workplace drug policies with fingerprint-based tests

Like other workplace drug testing organisations, construction firms have to think carefully about selecting the drug test method that best meets the requirements set out in their drug policy. For example, while some employers have a zero-tolerance approach towards drug taking by employees at any time, other companies consider their employees’ leisure activities their own business, so long as they are fit for duty when they arrive at work. However, different drug testing methods provide different ‘windows of detection’, so employers need to choose the best approach to support their drug misuse policy. Some methods will indicate very recent drug use – for example just before an employee starts their shift – while others will detect use several days ago – such as at the weekend – even though the employee is no longer under the influence of the drug when they come to work.

Urine-based tests offer a longer window of detection, which means an employee could screen positive and possibly be suspended from work as a result of drug use a few days earlier, despite being fit for duty at the time of the test. Of course, any positive screening result should always be verified with a laboratory confirmation test.

In contrast, fingerprint-based testing, with its shorter window of detection, is proving particularly helpful for drug testing in the construction sector. It gives firms a rapid yet dignified way of identifying potential employee drug use in the period immediately prior to their working shift, helping them to meet their Health and Safety at Work obligations while also supporting their duty of care towards employees.

As some construction firms have found, fingerprint-based testing – with its quick sample collection and initial results available in just ten minutes – is seen as a faster and more convenient drug testing approach that can be used to support a healthier workplace. To learn more about how the solution could work for your construction firm, please contact Intelligent Fingerprinting.”

[1] United Kingdom drug situation: annual report to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) 2012. Department of Health.