How to Choose the Right Drug Test Kits for Rapid Workplace Drug Screening

By William Bierlein

More than a decade ago, drug testing was only available through a few specialist laboratories. The only choice companies had for screening was to enter costly and slow contracted services with numerous delays between testing and getting results. Today, however, biotechnology has made drastic leaps forward, enabling rapid or instant on-site drug screening with results in just a few minutes after sample collection.

Drug testing has also moved from laboratories and clinic settings to the workplace.

For many businesses, drug screening is an integral part of the HR process. Whether you are screening for employment, return to duty, post-accident or random testing, choosing the right test kit and using them correctly is the best approach to ensure efficiency, quality, and obtaining the best results.

When choosing which test kit to use for your workplace screening program, the choice should not simply depend on price. There are other factors to consider to ensure accuracy.

When Should You Drug Screen Your Employees?

Drug testing is crucial at the time of hire to prevent the company from letting illegal drug users into the workplace, especially for industries such as transportation, healthcare, construction, or any other business that works directly with other individuals or operates machinery.

Other than the hiring period, drug testing may also be scheduled:

Post-accident: This is done to determine if drugs or alcohol may have played a part in the accident.

Reasonable suspicion: If you suspect an employee may be using drugs, you can administer substance screening.

Return-to-duty drug testing: Most companies administer a drug test to employees returning to work after a period of absence.

Periodic or random: Many employers also give random substance tests so employees don’t know when it might happen. The purpose is to ensure employees are deterred from using drugs. Others may choose periodic, scheduled drug screening.

Lab-Based Drug Test vs. Rapid Test: What’s the Difference?

While the main difference between lab testing and rapid drug tests is that the rapid test is instant, providing much faster results, it’s not the only difference.

Lab testing requires the company to send the tested specimen to the lab for processing. When a specimen goes to the lab, it undergoes an initial screening process to test for the presence of drug metabolites. Any drug metabolites found in the initial screening will be examined further to identify the drug used and the quantity in the employee’s system. Lab testing gives more detailed results and can accurately prove that the employee used the drug and that it wasn’t in their system due to an accidental, unintended exposure such as second-hand smoke inhalation.

A rapid drug test, also known as an instant test, gives immediate results, at least when the result is negative. With rapid drug screening, saliva and urine testing are usually used, and results are considered either negative or non-negative. This testing first determines if there is any presence of drug detected. If not, the results are considered negative. If there are any drugs detected, it’s presented as a non-negative test result. A rapid drug test can’t officially produce a positive result. Non-negative results are taken to the lab for further testing.

How to choose the right drug test kit for workplace drug screening

Drug compounds can be screened and detected in body fluids and tissues such as urine, blood, hair follicles, and saliva of an individual upon exposure to the drug groups. Since drug testing through a blood sample and hair follicles involves complex procedures and requires one to be in a lab, workplace drug screening or on-site testing is commonly done using instant urine and saliva drug test kits.

As no drug test kit singly fits all situations, there are five criteria you should look at when choosing a suitable workplace drug test kit. These will help you ensure that the rapid drug test kit you use to screen for substance use is efficient and in line with your organization’s drug and alcohol testing policy.

1. The purpose of the employee drug testing

It’s important to understand why your company policy dictates drug testing of employees. The purpose may be to test for:

Historical use of drugs:If you want to investigate the historical substance use of an employee, especially during the hiring process, urine drug testing is effective because drug compounds in urine maintain a longer detection window than saliva. You can find out the drug or alcohol use of the worker for the past few days or weeks with urine testing. However, this method might not be able to detect recent usage if the compounds have not been metabolized. Urine testing is usually suitable for pre-employment screening or post-incident investigation.

Recent substance uses: Saliva testing can detect drug compounds used in the past 24 hours. While both urine and saliva drug tests are not suitable for measuring a worker’s impairment due to substance use, saliva drug testing is the best option for workers prior to resuming work by testing the drug compounds available in their body at that specific moment.

2. Collection facilities available for workplace drug testing

When choosing a drug test kit for employees, consider the collection facilities available at your workplace to ensure privacy, especially gender-segregated facilities.

Urine testing requires a private, well-set-up collection facility with sealed-off tanks and water taps to prevent possible tampering or adulteration of samples. It might also be best to have separate specimen collection facilities for your female and male employees, keeping their privacy a priority. If you are still worried about potential tampering of specimens, such as fooling a drug test with fake urine, you can consider using test kits that include adulterants. These are an additional testing mechanism that determines the integrity of the sample.

On the other hand, a saliva drug test would be suitable if you don’t have proper collection facilities or if you want to physically monitor someone to provide a sample and reduce the possibility of sample adulteration. It is considered a less intrusive way to administer the drug test without sacrificing the individual’s privacy and can be done anywhere with suitable drug test kits.

3. Fulfillment of the standard requirement

Any workplace drug testing policy should comply with federal, state, and local laws.

Instant drug test kits produce negative or non-negative results based on the cut-off level for a specific drug group. Ensure you check whether the saliva and urine drug test kits’ cut-off levels comply with the legal standards to eliminate biased results.

Employers should also consider legal counsel as lawsuits have been filed against companies for invasion of privacy, discrimination, or wrongful discharge. The best way to avoid litigation, aside from hiring legal counsel, is to ensure that all your testing processes are implemented fairly and consistently —in a way that doesn’t conflict with any employee’s civil rights.

In addition, ensure you check the performance verification testing for various drug test kits to ensure their reliability and accuracy.

4. Drug groups being tested

Rapid drug test kits come in all sizes and shapes. You can test for any single substance or up to 14 drugs at once. If you are looking to screen employees for common drug groups such as cocaine, THC, amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, methamphetamines, and benzodiazepines, it would be more efficient and economical to purchase a test kit that includes those groups rather than buying a single test kit for each drug.

5. Your Budget

Instant drug test kits are relatively affordable compared to lab-based tests, and no matter your budget, there is a test kit for you.  r, prices are usually determined by individual providers or clinics. Other factors influencing the cost are the number of units and the type of test purchased. Plus, if the rapid test result is non-negative, further charges may accrue since it must be sent for further lab testing.

While lab-based testing is detailed and meticulous with more accurate results, most businesses prefer instant drug testing due to its many benefits.

Benefits of Rapid Employee Drug Testing

  • Drug test results are available in just a matter of minutes, compared to long hours or days with clinical or lab testing, which improves your overall employment cycle.
  • Reduces worker downtime since rapid testing can give results within a few minutes for those that pass the testing process.
  • Rapid urine drug testing accurately detects recent substance use up to the past twelve days, depending on the particular drug used.
  • Most rapid testing kits have specimen validity controls built into the drug test kits to detect substituted or adulterated urine specimens.
  • The cost per test is cheaper compared to other conventional drug testing methods.
  • Instant drug test kits are widely available.

If you need your employees’ drug test results immediately, we can provide instant drug testing supplies nationwide.

In Summary

Despite what you might have known, not all kits are the same. While the purpose might be the same, not all are made to fit different situations.

Instant drug testing or point-of-care testing kits can vary greatly in accuracy, quality, relevance, specificity, sensitivity, and cut-off levels. And they can also vary based on price. Not all rapid testing kits work well in all situations, and some may not work at all. For example, a saliva test kit that gives negative results after a few weeks of usage is not a suitable kit to use.

Therefore, getting independent advice and purchasing the most suitable drug testing kit for your workplace is imperative to limiting risks and getting it right and legally defensible. Nevertheless, the results should serve only as an indication of whether a worker has been exposed to drug usage, making them not fit for work. While workplace drug screening is legal, it shouldn’t be misused. It should help identify those who may be struggling with substance issues serving as a precursor to offering them the support they need rather than an approach towards discriminating and sanctioning workers with a history of drug abuse.

Contact us if you are looking for the most relevant instant drug testing kits, and we will supply them.