Drug & Alcohol Testing during COVID-19

Drug & Alcohol Testing during COVID-19

Published: 05/05/2020

Health & Safety Objectives

It is important that organisations continue to prioritise employee health and safety. This includes the continuation of vital drug and alcohol screening procedures in order to protect employees and the wider public whilst working and also reduce the impact on other healthcare and emergency services.

Please be aware that Police forces throughout the UK continue to screen at the roadside utilising DrugWipe and are reporting more arrests for drug driving than drink driving at this current time, despite reduced road user numbers. In some forces up to 50% of those arrested are ‘at work’ drivers. See latest newsfeed on Twitter @DrugWipeUK 

As a result, we have reviewed and distilled the latest government advice for our industry. Please digest and follow the guidance below to ensure your drug and alcohol testing procedures are as safe as possible for both screener and employee.


Before carrying out any drug testing you should ask the employee if they have experienced a high temperature or continuous cough in the last 7 days. If they answer Yes DO NOT continue to screen and ask that they return home in line with self-isolation guidance.*
*An employee may use this opportunity to avoid a test if they are currently impaired, so it is important a test is rescheduled when they return to work. In the case of “with cause testing” you may have already asked this question at the commencement of a shift, and timing may well be a factor in understanding why an incident took place. If this is the case, then screener discretion must be applied.

Screener Guidance - what you should do:

NOTE - The priority should always be infection control and prevention of onward transmission of Coronavirus between screener and employee. This would be by breath or contact, and then contact with the face or rubbing the eyes. Consequently, we have updated our usage instructions as follows.

  • The screener is advised to wear “single use” disposable gloves during collection of samples and is then to remove and dispose of these when the sample collection is completed (i.e. one pair of gloves per employee screen). See guidance relating to disposal of PPE items
  • The screener may also consider the use of a mask when carrying out testing. These should be disposed of in the same manner as the gloves. See guidance relating to mask usage
  • You might also wish to wear safety goggles which are contoured to the face and vented to prevent fogging. These are not single use but should be washed with detergent in line with hand hygiene advice. See guidance relating to eye protection/safety goggles – cleaning
  • When collecting the skin, saliva or breath samples from the employee, do so from the side of the employee rather than from directly in front of them, face-to-face
  • Once the DrugWipe samples have been collected, return immediately to the 2m social distancing between the employee and screener
  • If the screener has chosen not to wear gloves, they are advised to wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds between each donor collection  
  • If hand sanitiser containing alcohol is being used anywhere in the room, prior to conducting the breath test, make sure to conduct a ‘passive test’ to check the atmosphere is alcohol free and that any alcohol that may have been on the screeners hands no longer has any effect. (A passive test is one with no breath tube attached and from the Ready state, simply press the Green button and await the result) 
    • If the passive test result returns a Zero, then attach a new breath tube and carry out the breath test
    • If the passive test result is greater than Zero, wait a few minutes and carry out a further passive test. Continue this until the breathalyser returns a Zero result

All other Drug and Alcohol testing rules apply as before. Any delay or disruption should be considered abuse of process, gross misconduct, and disciplinary procedures should be applied in line with your specific company policy.


A Note on Housekeeping

Just a couple of reminders as part of good practice,

  • please keep an eye on your current stock levels to make sure that this is all well within date
  • if you should require any additional staff to be trained as screeners, this can be arranged online, and refresher training is also available targeted for staff who may be furloughed


Supporting our Customers

Finally, please be advised that D.Tec are available and continue to operate as normal on a remote basis.
Please do not hesitate to call or email one of our team if you have any questions or concerns.
Most importantly, Stay Safe.

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