What to expect at a drug test collection

A collector handing a potential employee (donor) an empty container to use in the specimen collection process.

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 drug screening process:

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 the 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.

Watch an on-demand webinar for employers: Back to basics – Urine drug testing webinar.

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.

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

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