Monday 26 July 2021

Drug testing at a distance

Dr Paul Yates, director at Intelligent Fingerprinting, discusses how Covid-19 social distancing can be maintained while testing for drug use

There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about unplanned demand in the transport sector. Waitrose recently reported that 77 per cent of British consumers now do at least part of their grocery shopping online, while Amazon’s 2020 Q2 sales were up 40 per cent on the previous year.

So, it’s hardly surprising that tech firm IBM has suggested that the pandemic has accelerated consumers’ ongoing shift towards ecommerce by five years.

These trends clearly demonstrate the increasingly critical role to be played by the transport and logistics industry in keeping everything moving. The number of lorries moving goods from the manufacturers to the distribution centres has grown, as well as the smaller van services delivering to the customer’s front door – and of course they all need drivers.

To address this increased demand, the sector has had to recruit thousands of new drivers and warehouse staff quickly – and there has also been inevitable pressure to run leaner operations.

On top of these challenges, the industry still has to follow business-critical driver safety policies – drug policies and testing processes to ensure fitness for duty – and also protect the health and safety of employees, customers and the general public.

Depending on the type of drug test used, ensuring safe and hygienic drug testing during the pandemic can be a complex challenge.

The government’s two-metre social distancing recommendation, minimising the amount of time you spend in close contact, and – if possible – wearing a face covering when in an enclosed space – is pretty impossible with some of the traditional drug testing methods.

Oral fluid tests require the collection of an individual’s saliva in close proximity with no mask, while urine drug tests also involve the handling of messy and biohazardous samples.

In contrast, fingerprint-based drug testing can be completed while fully adhering to social distancing – maintaining the safety of both the driver and the tester. It’s really simple and hygienic to use, as both the test supervisor and the person being tested can remain socially distant at all times.

Users can self-administer their own fingerprint sample collection, allowing them to keep at least 2m away from the tester, while easy sample collection takes just one minute with results available in only ten minutes. For transport firms, this can make a huge difference as it removes the need for prolonged proximity during testing.

How it works

All the user has to do is take a fingerprint drug screening cartridge from its sealed-foil wrapper, press all ten fingerprints in succession onto the sample pad, and then slide the tamper-evident locking cover across to protect the sample from any interference. The user then steps away to allow the tester to collect the cartridge and insert it into a mobile reader.

The fingerprint collection approach is both non-invasive and hygienic, with no need for intrusive oral swabs or urine sample collection.

This removes the need for close face-to-face contact and there’s no requirement to handle biohazardous body fluids. And because the process doesn’t require an oral swab, the people taking the fingerprint-based drug test can keep on wearing their face mask throughout the process.

Controlling costs

Using fingerprint-based testing instead of approaches such as urine testing can unlock significant savings for transport operators. Immediate efficiency savings include being able to carry out testing quickly and easily in the office and no longer needing to cordon off toilet facilities to dedicate their use to urine testing.

Because the system is portable and simple to use, firms can also run their testing programme themselves in a safe and convenient location. This removes the additional risk of bringing external testing providers on-site and eliminates the high costs incurred when using third party collection services.

Explore Plant & Transport Solutions

One of the UK’s fastest-growing transport and plant hire services firms, Explore Plant & Transport Solutions, is already using Intelligent Fingerprinting’s innovative fingerprint drug testing method to help meet its industry drug policy requirements.

As part of the company’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) accreditation, Explore Plant & Transport Solutions has to ensure that its driving staff meet licence/medical requirements and are not impaired through drink, drugs and fatigue.

The company’s HR team has been trained to use the quick and easy fingerprint drug tests in-house as needed. They are currently being used for random monthly drug tests across UK sites. A key reason behind the decision to adopt fingerprint-based testing was a determination to take greater control over the process.

The system is highly portable, meaning it can be taken to any of the company’s depots, and used for both HGV drivers as well as office-based staff. And because the system is really easy for HR staff to use, the whole process is much quicker and saves time for everyone involved.

More information about fingerprint-based drug testing is available at the website.

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