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Drug & Alcohol Testing - ICON SAFETY CONSULTING INC.
Drug Test - ICON SAFETY CONSULTING INC.

Drug and Alcohol Testing - FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

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As experts in Drug and Alcohol Testing, we want to make sure that we are completely transparent and happily respond to all questions. If you have questions about any of our services and don’t find the answers here, please contact us.

Below are some commonly asked questions:

Online Drug and Alcohol Testing Registration Form - ICON SAFETY CONSULTING INC.
Online Drug and Alcohol Testing Registration Form - ICON SAFETY CONSULTING INC.

What do I need to bring with me to get a Drug and Alcohol Test done?


  • You MUST bring a form of Government issued Photo ID
  • A full bladder


Why should my company participate in Drug and Alcohol testing?


  • If you are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, a Drug and Alcohol Testing program is mandatory, and failure to comply could result in fines or being blocked from traveling to the United States.
  • For non-regulated companies, a testing program is highly recommended because Drug and Alcohol use among workers in safety-sensitive positions can put employees, the public and the environment at risk. By reducing injuries, accidents and illnesses, you not only promote safety, you potentially lower your liability risk and insurance premiums.


Do I need an alcohol and drug testing program policy?


  • Yes. Developing a program policy is necessary to ensuring your program is defensible and meets certain human rights requirements. We assist with developing and implementing a policy that meets your company’s needs.


How reliable are drug test results?


  • A confirmed positive result offers virtually 100% assurance that the specific drug is present in the specimen at a specific level.


As an employer, which types of drugs should I test for?


  • We conduct a standard 5-panel drug test for U.S. regulated employers. For workplaces that are not regulated, we can customize drug testing panels on request.
  • It is important to note that we do not offer a one-size-fits-all approach – if you don’t need it, we won’t sell it to you.


As an employer how do I determine which type of drug test to use (oral fluid, hair, or urine) and whether I should use a lab-based or an express test?


  • For employees in safety-sensitive positions, lab-based oral fluid and urine testing are the most common sample types, each with advantages and disadvantages in specific situations. For instance,
  • Oral fluid testing can provide shorter time windows of detection (i.e. hours, not days) for some drugs, and depending on the cutoff levels, the results could potentially indicate impairment in proximity to the test.
  • Urine provides a longer history of use with a focus on risk as opposed to impairment.
  • Express Testing using oral fluid is not as reliable as lab-based oral fluid tests, particularly when it comes to marijuana. Also, a point of care test is not a confirmation test. A POCT non-negative result must be confirmed by a lab-based test.


As a manager, I’m concerned that a large number of my people will quit when we start a testing program.


  • Employee awareness training before you implement a testing program can be very helpful. This training allows employees to share their concerns and receive answers. We believe that employees will embrace your drug testing program if the program is explained properly. Additionally, we recommend a roll-out phase with 30 days notice that the program will be implemented, giving employees the opportunity to seek help with substance abuse issues before testing takes place.


How long after use are drugs detectable in urine?


This list shows the varying rates at which drugs in the bloodstream are metabolized (broken down) and excreted from the body. Retention time differs among individuals according to many factors, including the amount consumed, the method of drug use, whether use is chronic or occasional, individual rates of metabolism and excretion, diet, the acidity of the urine, and the concentration of the urine at the time the specimen is collected.


Because of these variables, the information presented should be used as a general guideline only.


  Approximate Retention Times


  • Amphetamines 1 – 2 days
  • Cocaine metabolites 2 – 4 days
  • Ethanol 2 – 14 hours
  • Marijuana metabolites Occasional use: 1 – 7 days Chronic use: 1 – 4 weeks
  • Opiates 1 – 2 days
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) Occasional use: 1 – 8 days Chronic use: up to 30 days


What qualifies as a refusal to test?


  • A refusal to test happens when the employee has either substituted, adulterated or tampered with a urine specimen, refuses to participate in a regulated required test, or obstructs the testing process.


How does random Drug and Alcohol testing work?


  • First all employees names are entered into our "Randomizer" computer program then the program randomly selects employees from a pool. The testing dates and times are unannounced and are spread throughout the year.  Completly removing any human selection from the process
  • ICON’s Randomizer selection software selects participants for random testing in the desired quantity and at the desired times.


Is it possible for employees in a random testing pool to be selected more than once in a calendar year?


  • Yes. Random testing means that every person in your testing pool has the same chance of being selected each time a random draw is made. It is possible, although rare, for an employee to be chosen in every selection. However, in order to avoid concerns about potential bias, your random selection will be generated by our sophisticated "Randomizer" computer program.


I only have non-regulated employees can I conduct random drug and alcohol testing?


  • There is a common misconception that all random testing is illegal, unless an employer is required to do so to comply with mandatory testing regulations, such as those of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Based upon a number of legal decisions emerging from a variety of different judicial settings (various human rights commissions, labor arbitration settings, provincial and federal court decisions, etc.), it is possible for non-regulated employers to establish and implement random testing programs, but such employers must be able to demonstrate exactly why there is a significant need to do so, while still adhering to human rights law, privacy law, labor law (including collective bargaining agreement matters, where applicable), and a host of other applicable laws and factors.

    The issues are many and are complex, but can be resolvable to the point where random testing is indeed justifiable and legal. Before any non-regulated employer determines that random testing should be introduced into its workplace, ICON SAFETY CONSULTING INC. strongly recommends that such employers seek out professional advice from legal counsel and policy experts familiar with and experienced with the various applicable laws that could have impact on such matters.


I know that alcohol testing can measure impairment at the time of testing and drug testing can’t, so why do we drug test?


  • Drug testing is not intended to measure levels of impairment. Drug tests tell you specific factual information, for example: that specific drug concentration levels have been verified above the established cutoff levels. A test result showing levels above these cutoff levels only indicates a heightened safety risk, not impairment. Additionally, a positive Drug or Alcohol test cannot tell us if an individual has a dependency issue. For that, we depend on the evaluation of a substance abuse expert.


As an employee, can I be fired if I fail an alcohol or drug test?


  • Federal and provincial human rights commissions have proclaimed that once an employee tests positive, it could be interpreted that he or she has a real or perceived disability (such as an addiction), and if so, efforts must be made to accommodate them up to the point of undue hardship. On behalf of our clients, and in order to help satisfy the duty to accommodate, we can refer those workers to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for assessment, diagnosis, and education and/or treatment.


Marijuana is going to be legalized, so why are we testing for it?


  • Marijuana is one of the five drugs that are part of the standard drug testing panel. Marijuana is proven to affect an individuals’ ability to safely perform their duties on a work site, resulting in accidents and incidents causing death, disability, and destruction of property and the environment.
  • If marijuana is legalized, it will still be included in the standard drug testing panel. Alcohol is legal and it is tested for, as per the standard.


My driver has tested positive. Can he/she still drive commercially?


  • For U.S. regulated employers, any driver who tests positive, refuses to test, or is in violation of any other applicable provisions as defined in the rule makings is immediately no longer qualified to drive commercial vehicles covered under U.S. DOT alcohol and drug testing regulations.
  • It is up to the non-regulated employer to decide how much risk it is willing to take on by allowing someone who has tested positive, has refused to test, or has violated company policy in some way to continue driving.


Is it possible for people to test positive for cannabis if they have only passively inhaled marijuana smoke from nearby smokers?


  • No, the concentration cutoffs for THC have been set so that passive inhalation will not result in a positive test.