By Adam Hall
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Drug testing is the proverbial “no-brainer.” It deters drug use by employees, it helps to screen out undesirable drug users before they get on the payroll, and helps protect companies from costly lawsuits brought on by workers who cause accidents, property damage and harm to others while under the influence of marijuana and other drugs. But how to conduct drug testing, especially sample collections, is the key to maximizing a company’s return on investment from testing.
Traditionally speaking, the drug and alcohol testing process includes sending applicants or employees to a designated, off-site collection facility to complete whatever testing is necessary (e.g., pre-employment, random, urine, saliva, etc.). While drug and alcohol collection facilities remain a necessity for many employers, there are some inherent issues with these types of establishments that can create hardships. For instance, the process of sending an individual to a collection facility for a random test usually requires that individual to be pulled from a job site to complete their test. Depending on the location of the collection facility, the commute can take a substantial amount of time. Additionally, wait times at the collection facility may be high due to increased volume at the site, ultimately creating more lost work time for the employer.
Alternative options do exist for employers looking to streamline their drug and alcohol testing process. Onsite collections provide quicker turnaround times for employers, and generally impose far less strain on a company trying to maintain their drug and alcohol testing program. As with any other facet of drug and alcohol testing, employers should know which regulations, laws, or contractual obligations they must comply with before turning to onsite collections as some entities may limit employers’ options.
What is an Onsite Collection?
Onsite collections, sometimes referred to as in-house or remote collections, are sample collections that occur at locations other than traditional collection facilities. Collections can be conducted in an office or on an offshore drilling platform, and everywhere in between. This option is ideal for many employers because onsite collections typically have a minimal impact on productivity.
Who Can Conduct Onsite Collections?
Collection facilities may offer onsite services to their clients, and collectors can be dispatched to wherever collections need to occur. This arrangement is usually made between the collection facility and the employer, and all necessary information is given to the collector to render services. This service may be preferrable for some employers because it does not require any of their personnel to have special training or certification as the collection is handled by a third party.
Another common practice is for employers to perform their own collections of their personnel. This model usually consists of a designated collector, such as a Human Resources (HR) representative, to handle all the company’s collection needs.
Where Can Onsite Collections Occur?
As mentioned before, onsite collections can be conducted in a wide variety of locations. For onsite collections to be successful, the site must be able to accommodate the type of collection being conducted. For example, if a urine sample is to be collected, then the onsite collection area must have amenities to accommodate the urine specimen collection process. This includes a private restroom where the hot water can be turned off, blue dye can be put in the toilet water, and an observed collection can be accommodated when required.
In contrast, oral fluid or hair samples can be collected virtually anywhere if there is a suitable workspace to complete the collection process. With both methods, restrooms are not necessary and the collector and donor are within sight of one another during the entire collection process.
Why Should Employers Consider Onsite Collections?
Many employers turn to onsite collections primarily because of the costs savings onsite collections may yield. Onsite collections eliminate the time that is lost by each employee when sent to a collection facility. Additional costs savings may exist if an employer chooses to conduct their own collections. Collection facilities typically charge a collection fee, and possibly other administrative fees for each collection they complete. By removing this additional step and conducting their own tests, employers can avoid collection fees all together, and even work directly with their laboratory for results.
Convenience is another reason employers may utilize onsite collections. For example, an employer may be doing a large hiring push for an upcoming project requiring 40 new employees. Instead of having to send all 40 individuals (or more given the fact that some applicants will either not show up at the collection site or not pass the drug test) to a collection facility, the employer can choose to dispatch a collector to a specific location, or even conduct all the collections using company personnel.
Why Should Providers Offer Onsite Collections?
Drug testing providers are experiencing significant changes in how they deliver services. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers struggled to get traditional urine collections performed. As a result, some companies looked to alternative collection and testing methods to help them maintain their drug testing programs. Alternatives included oral fluid testing, rapid-result testing (both urine and oral fluid), and telehealth collections, all of which make it possible to bypass the need to use off-site collection facilities.
For providers, offering these alternatives is an important way to retain clients, who might otherwise look to get these services from other providers because they have chosen not to go back to traditional drug testing methods. It is also a way for providers to serve as consultants to their clients, always looking for ways to help them maximize their drug testing ROI.
While there are some significant benefits to onsite collections, they may not be ideal for all employers. In addition to ensuring all applicable rules and regulations are adhered to, employers should consider the logistics of onsite testing. Collection facilities still play a valuable role in the drug and alcohol testing industry and may be a more reasonable choice for some employers.
However, deciding between using a collection facility or conducting onsite collections does not require an all or nothing approach. Some employers may choose to have a designated collector internally purely for emergent needs. It may not be necessary for all collections to be completed onsite, but this option can be viewed as a valuable tool for employers when available.
Considering adding onsite testing to your drug and alcohol program? Contact CCG at [email protected] to learn more about how we can help you update your policy, collector training, and more.
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