UK Drug testing: Common scenarios and considerations

shutterstock_217781467When you say to people in the UK the term ‘drug testing’, many different connotations spring to mind. In the UK especially, some people will think of racing events and ensuring any competitor of an equine nature hasn’t been either doped or given a boost. Others will think of sportsmen and women who have been attempting to skate, run or cycle their way through the criteria for performance enhancing drugs.

Then, of course, there are parents and colleagues who are concerned for the wellbeing of people to whom they are close; as well as police who want to ensure the roads, as well as families, are safe. As you can see, ‘drug testing’ is a very broad term.

For us, drug testing is used to help people know for sure whether drugs are being used, and if so, ‘what drugs’. There are several scenarios where this could be important:


When a parent suspects a child is regularly using drugs – this is a sensitive issue and one that needs thinking through. One view is, if it is a one off experience than testing them may cause issues in the family relationships for years to come. If however it is something that seems to be affecting health and wellbeing, wouldn’t it be better to know what is going on?

Family Law solicitor – a custody case with a family and they want to show an exact position of whether a parent is NOT using drugs, this can be a very powerful tool. Especially as hair testing, not urine or oral fluid, will reliably show people the position.

In the Workplace

People shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery under the influence, and as such, a ‘short window’ drug test can show there and then whether a person has been taken drugs (including alcohol)

When considering other performance issues of the workforce, drug testing can provide a screening mechanism for new employers as well as a deterrent for existing members of staff

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, section 2 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state that it is an offence for any person knowingly to permit the production, supply or use of controlled substances on their premises.

On the Road

The Road Traffic act 1988 and the Transport and Works Act 1992 says that Drivers of road vehicles must not be under the influence of drugs while driving or when in charge of a vehicle. So we currently are witnessing the Roadside drug testing debate. Oral fluid seems the most appropriate test to check for driving under the influence. But maybe Trucking companies should consider hair testing to detect which of their drivers actually use drugs before they go on the road?

In Sports

Over the past few years we have seen some prominent stories of drug use in sports, including cricket and rugby. As such, we believe hair strand drug testing will start to play a key role in how sports ensure the safety, as well as for fair play, or sports persons.

Posted in Drug testing, Editorials, Hair drug testing