Drug Testing

What to Expect at a Drug Test Collection

by Pablo Bolanos on July 21, 2017

Your shirt is pressed, your haircut is fresh, and you’ve rehearsed all possible scenarios for this interview as your hopeful journey for a new employment opportunity begins. Thankfully, the state of today’s economy may work in your favor, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 90% of states are currently experiencing stable to improving unemployment rates.

Once the interview process wraps up, a job candidate may receive a request from their employer to complete a drug test. Companies throughout the world implement drug testing programs because statistics show substance abuse can compromise the integrity and productivity of the workplace. “A drug-free workplace program is a safety program for employees as well as a company’s pledge to protect its customers and assets,” said Lisa Ruehle, Compliance Specialist at Quest Diagnostics.

The majority of drug tests take place at facilities known as collection sites. To ensure that donors receive a consistent, high-quality experience, collectors are trained to follow standardized processes at every location as a way to help control the integrity of the specimens and the drug test results. These rigorous protocols can sometimes take donors by surprise.

For that reason, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published 10 helpful steps for collection site security and integrity. Once an employer sends their donor to a collection site to have a drug test collection performed, both parties involved—the collection site and the donor—should have reasonable expectations of what will take place in order to complete a successful drug test collection.

Although the following steps walk a collector through he specimen collection process, employees (also referred to as donors) should take notice of each detailed instruction:

  1. Pay careful attention to employees throughout the collection process.
  2. Ensure that there is no unauthorized access into the collection areas and that undetected access (e.g., through a door not in view) is not possible.
  3. Make sure that employees show proper picture ID.
  4. Make sure employees empty pockets; remove outer garments (e.g., coveralls, jacket, coat, and hat); leave briefcases, purses, and bags behind; and wash their hands.
  5. Maintain personal control of the specimen and Custody and Control form (CCF) at all times during the collection.
  6. Secure any water sources or otherwise make them unavailable to employees (e.g., turn off water inlet, tape handles to prevent opening faucets, secure tank lids).
  7. Ensure that the water in the toilet and tank (if applicable) has bluing (coloring) agent in it. Tape or otherwise secure shut any movable toilet tank top, or put bluing in the tank.
  8. Ensure that no soap, disinfectants, cleaning agents, or other possible adulterants are present.
  9. Inspect the site to ensure that no foreign or unauthorized substances are present.
  10. Secure areas and items (e.g., ledges, trash receptacles, paper towel holders, under-sink areas, ceiling tiles) that appear suitable for concealing contaminants.

These 10 steps are applicable to all urine drug test collections handled by a collection site and are readily available at for reference by both employees(donors) and collectors. However, it is important to note that oral fluid specimens can be collected at an employee’s place of employment. In that scenario, the collection procedures may vary slightly from the DOT’s steps. For detailed instructions to collect an Oral-Eze® oral fluid sample, visit our website.

You drive home, empty your pockets, and reflect on this career opportunity. Will you get an offer for the position? Will your future change or will your job search continue? Did you earn a chance for a new start? What is certain is that employers see the benefits of drug testing and the importance of a drug-free workforce.

Download the DOT’s Top 10 Steps to Collection Site Security and Integrity as a reference for expectations during the drug test collection process.

For more information about drug test collections, visit our website or contact us online.

Ask the Experts: Drug Testing Cutoffs

by Nicole Jupe on July 18, 2017

Question: Can you explain cutoff levels for laboratory-based drug testing?

In workplace drug testing, the industry standard process involves two-tiered testing – an initial screen on one portion of the specimen, followed by a confirmatory test on a second portion of the original specimen. The initial test is designed to separate negative specimens from further consideration. The confirmatory test uses definitive methods, such as chromatography-mass spectrometry (e.g., GC-MS, LC-MS/MS), that specifically identify and quantify the drug/metabolite in the specimen. Drug testing detects the presence of drugs and drug metabolites using cutoff levels to determine whether a specimen tests positive or negative for the use of a specific drug.

Cutoff levels are expressed in nanograms (ng) per milliliter (mL) for urine and oral fluid testing or picograms (pg) per milligram (mg) for hair testing. It is important to select a specimen type and cutoff level based on the desired window of detection and any regulatory requirements. Only when a drug or drug metabolite is identified at a concentration equal to or above the administrative cutoff is a specimen reported by the laboratory as positive. Consequently, a negative drug test does not necessarily mean that no drug is present. While that may be the case, other possible interpretations are that a drug was present below the cutoff or the testing panel did not include the drug the individual was using.

Cutoff levels for federally-regulated drug testing programs are established based on mandatory guidelines set by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rule 49 CFR Part 40 harmonizes with HHS and describes the required procedures for conducting drug and alcohol testing for the federally-regulated transportation industry. Many non-regulated employers mirror the cutoff levels established by the government while others customize their drug testing panels to be more sensitive to certain drugs based upon their program needs and unique workforce.

Download our Complete Line of Drug Testing Solutions to see the most commonly ordered non-regulated drug test panels and their cutoff levels.

Take our Drug Testing Needs Assessment to evaluate the benefits of different solutions for your program goals.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

SHRM in the Big Easy

July 13, 2017Drug Testing

New Orleans has a rich history that spans back to the 1700s. The city’s pulse beats through marvelous jazz musicians, street performers, and some of the world’s most diverse and delicious food. No other city in the United States quite compares. This eclectic stage lent itself to a lively conference held by the Society for […]

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Zika Spotlight: Past, Present, and Future

July 11, 2017Drug Testing

“At first I thought Emanuelle was just a tiny baby but I noticed she wasn’t developing like my nephew of the same age. At four months she couldn’t sit down properly and was very floppy and didn’t move around at lot.” Emanuelle’s mother, Vanessa, found out the heart-breaking news that her baby had a mild […]

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Quest Joins the Drug Court Solution

July 5, 2017Drug Courts

Drug courts and other problem-solving courts impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year. These courts offer an alternative to prison for drug abusers arrested for crimes typically associated with supporting their habits. Courts are strict with highly-regimented programs, which can last from 18 to 24 months. According to the National Drug […]

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An Exploration of Addiction: Young Adults

June 27, 2017Drug Testing

In the previous installment of our Exploration of Addiction series, we examined the adolescent years and how access, curiosity, and a number of other factors can influence adolescent drug and alcohol use. We now turn our attention to a demographic that is sometimes synonymous with excess, experimentation, and substance-abuse: young adulthood. According to the National […]

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Name That Drug: Seemingly Superhuman

June 23, 2017Drug Testing

DATIA focus magazine is a quarterly publication of the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) that provides up-to-date resources and information. As a top publication in our industry, DATIA focus features content on leading innovations, research, and current trends. The publication features in-depth articles that discuss trends, the effects of drugs, legal implications of drug and alcohol […]

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ESP: Simplicity from Start to Finish

June 21, 2017Drug Testing

When technology is at its best, it combines powerful functionality with intuitive design. The Employer Solutions Portal (ESP) drug testing portal is a great example of this combination. But don’t take our word for it. A longtime client recently wrote us to say, “With ESP, we can set up templates and minimize data entry. It’s […]

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I’m There: Laron Nelson

June 19, 2017Drug Testing

Always racing against time, Laron Nelson, Technical Forensic Processor, greets thousands of packages with a smile and an eagerness to get them moving throughout our Lenexa, Kansas laboratory. He is part of the specimen processing team that must always work quickly and efficiently because our clients trust Quest to deliver timely, accurate drug test results. […]

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Top 10 Drug Testing Tips for HR

June 16, 2017Drug Testing

Human Resources professionals serve as trusted advisors offering insights and guidance on a variety of topics such as staffing, benefits, compensation, and employee engagement. Ultimately, the role centers on making a positive impact for the workforce and retaining high-performing employees who drive results. As the labor market tightens, the importance of effective recruitment strategies has […]

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