There are a number of reasons that employers conduct employee drug tests. One is to reduce the likelihood of on-the-job accidents. Another is to protect employees in the event that an accident does occur. A third reason could be that tests are required by law; businesses in certain industries, such as trucking and aviation, are required by the federal Department of Transportation to operate regular testing programs.
In any of these situations, the person conducting the test — the sample collector — is one of the most important people in the entire drug-testing process.
The collector must have the proper training, experience and expertise to manage communication with the employee in addition to perfectly handling all aspects of the chain of custody regarding the specimen itself.
In short, a good collector is critical.
In its testing guidelines, the DOT puts it this way: “Without the collector assuring the integrity of the specimen and collection process, the test itself may lose validity. Without the collector’s sensitivity to an employee’s privacy, the entire testing program may be subject to criticism. It is imperative that collectors fully understand and follow these procedures.”
As a business owner, you don’t want to put your employees through a testing regimen only to have the tests themselves come under scrutiny. One option is to build a testing system from within, training and supervising your company’s own collectors. That can be a daunting and unwieldy process, in many cases. Another option is to outsource collection tasks to a local testing company. But how do you know if the company you’ve selected to manage your drug and alcohol testing is up to the job?
Education and regular refresher training
It all starts with education. Before collecting DOT specimens, any collector must be properly trained.
Further critical steps include refresher error-correction training. Refresher training must happen at least every five years. Error-correction training, within 30 days of being notified of the error, is critical in the event of a mistake that causes a test to be cancelled.
Attention to site collection details and security
In choosing a collecting company, ensure that they’re paying sufficient attention to the details of the collection site. If testing is to take place in a multi-stall restroom, for example, the collector must first secure all sources of water, soap and other items that could be used to contaminate or tamper with a sample. Access to other employees also must be restricted. Absent these (and many other) precautions, the collection itself must be monitored.
Proper identification and explanation
A good collector will always ensure that he or she sees government or employer photo ID to verify the identity of the employee. Faxes and/or photocopies of ID should never be accepted. Absent the presentation of ID, identification by an employer representative (not a co-worker) is acceptable.
When you’re looking for a top-quality drug-testing company that places high emphasis on correct procedure, you can’t do better than Bostec Inc., in Lynden. Bostec is one of the most-respected training companies and collection sites in Whatcom County; Bostec has trained many of the other collectors in the area.