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The Advantage of Hair Drug Testing in Workplace Safety

Introduction to Hair Drug Testing: Explaining the basics, how it works, and why it's a reliable method for detecting chronic drug use.

When it comes to ensuring a drug-free workplace, employers are often faced with a myriad of testing options. Among these, hair drug testing emerges as a standout choice for its unparalleled ability to uncover long-term drug usage. At Workplace Safety Screenings, we advocate for the strategic implementation of hair drug testing, especially for employers navigating the challenges of maintaining a safe and productive work environment.

Hair drug testing excels in detecting chronic drug use through its extensive detection window, revealing drug metabolites in the hair shaft over months. This method surpasses traditional urine or saliva tests in accuracy and scope, consistently identifying chronic users. Our trust in this approach is backed by science and reinforced by numerous instances where individuals, insisting on their one-time drug use, seek private hair tests to prove their innocence.

The Benefits of Hair Drug Testing and addressing common misconceptions (e.g., the impact of secondhand smoke or the possibility of cheating the test)

  • Pre-employment testing events are when hair drug testing should be conducted, as it is the ideal time to catch chronic drug users. It costs an employer over $8,000 to hire, not to mention train a new employee – the cost of a hair drug test is a fraction of this. Annual testing is also a good time to administer hair drug tests.
  • The detection window is greater than any other form of testing, from about ten days to 90 days, from the date of testing. Therefore, this is not useful for post-accident or reasonable suspicion testing, as no recent history exists.
  • An example from the trucking industry - Maverick Transportation implemented hair testing in 2012. Since then they have completed 10,000 pre-hire drug tests: 18 (.18%) were positive on the urine test and 324 (3.24%) were positive on the hair drug test. As of June 2020 they have yielded zero positives via 415 random urinalysis tests. How Hair Testing for Drug Use Improves Fleet Safety | EHS Today
  • Secondhand smoke does not trigger positive tests.
  • Hair drug tests are almost impossible to cheat.
  • Hair drug tests can’t be masked by shampoos or elaborate coloring tactics.

Note: Positive drug test results equate to the employee not being paid for a worker's compensation claim unless gross neglect can be proven by the employer. AND a driver of any vehicle or heavy equipment gets into an accident while under the influence the plaintiff wins.

A common challenge encountered with hair testing arises when a candidate lacks hair for testing purposes. This can occur naturally in individuals with no hair due to conditions like alopecia, or when a candidate deliberately removes all hair.  

At Workplace Safety Screenings, we offer a variety of hair testing options, ranging from 5-panel to 17-panel tests. Individuals attempting to evade the hair drug test by shaving off all their body hair will be disqualified from employment requiring such testing.

It's essential to clarify that the term "hair follicle test" is often misused. The testing process involves cutting hair at the base of the scalp, not plucking it from the follicle. The laboratory then examines the drug metabolites embedded within the hair, making it virtually impossible to cheat on this type of drug test.

Hair Testing Explained / Experience Easy Hair Testing / How Does it Work?

  1. Choose your preferred location for hair collection: We can come to your location, visit our clinic, or you can head to our partner clinics.
  2. Your hair sample undergoes professional analysis and review by a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO) at one of our accredited labs.  

Negative results for the basic 5-panel test are typically available within 2 to 3 days. For the more comprehensive 9 to 17 panels, it may take a few additional days. Positive initial results undergo further confirmatory GC-MS testing, ensuring accuracy and reliability.

Beyond Head Hair / Can Body Hair be Tested for Drugs or Alcohol?

If head hair is insufficient or shaved, body hair from legs, chest, armpits, and even beards can be used. Contrary to common belief, body hair grows at a similar rate as head hair, but it tends to reach a shorter length before stopping growth.

Our hair drug test provides an extended window for drug use detection, using an inch and a half of body hair. Positive results indicate drug ingestion within an estimated timeframe of the last 90 days, rather than pinpointing specific usage dates. Trust in our accurate and comprehensive testing process.

As a national leader in hair drug testing, we've honed our expertise to streamline the testing process for simplicity and efficiency, ensuring accurate results.

All tests are meticulously analyzed by certified labs. Our hair drug tests undergo a thorough review by certified Medical Review Officers (MROs) before results are released.

In case of non-negative results during the initial screening, we conduct additional Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) confirmation testing. This step ensures that individuals legitimately using prescription medication have the opportunity to provide authorized proof to our doctors. When taken as prescribed, the final report will reflect a "negative" result, safeguarding individuals on prescribed medication. Choose Workplace Safety Screenings for reliable, accurate, and comprehensive hair testing solutions.

The Superiority of Hair Testing: Why Choose It Over Urine Testing, or in Addition too?

Hair testing boasts an extended detection window compared to urine testing and offers greater resistance to cheating attempts. The analysis focuses on the drugs within the hair shaft, impervious to external contaminants and chemicals. Standard hair testing reaches back around 90 days, detecting drugs approximately 10 days post-ingestion.

A mere half-inch of head hair reflects roughly 30 days of history. Most labs test only 1.5 inches of head hair unless a special request is made. Body hair can also be tested, ensuring options for individuals without sufficient head hair. For optimal screening and confirmation, a 1.5-inch sample of about 200 strands closest to the scalp (approximately the size of a #2 pencil) provides an ideal 100mg of hair.

For EtG hair testing or 12 or more drug panels, additional hair (recommended 150mg) is required. Body hair can be collected from various locations and combined to meet the needed amount, ensuring comprehensive testing for various scenarios.  

Clarifying Hair Drug Testing: We Don’t Actually Test the Hair Root

Contrary to its name, a hair drug test doesn’t examine the root itself. Hair drug testing analyzes the first inch and a half of hair growth from the base, comprising approximately 120 strands, to detect drug use within the past 10 to 90 days. When drugs are ingested, they enter the bloodstream and produce metabolites, which circulate through the blood. As blood nourishes the hair, ingested drugs and their metabolites are deposited into the hair. This evidence of drug use remains in the hair indefinitely, unless the hair is shaved and new growth occurs.

Can Individuals Cheat a Hair Drug Test?

Hair drug tests offer increased resistance to cheating compared to urine tests, as they are directly collected by trained professionals. However, individuals without body or head hair cannot undergo this test. Concerns about environmental drug exposure, like second-hand marijuana smoke, have been raised. Hair drug tests detect both the drug and its metabolites, reflecting ingestion or smoking. Yet, exposure to marijuana smoke without inhaling it won't yield positive results, as no marijuana metabolites are present in the hair.

Detectable Drugs with Hair Testing

Hair testing enhances the effectiveness of drug tests but does not alter the range of drugs detected. A 5-panel test, for example, will still identify marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates, and amphetamines. As the testing complexity increases, it becomes more specific to various substances. It is essential to note that hair tests detect the same types of drugs as standard 5, 7, 10, and 12-panel urine tests, dispelling common misconceptions.

Body and Head Hair for Testing

The standard 90-day hair test necessitates a 1.5-inch hair sample from the subject. If the individual shaves their head before the test, a screening facility can use body hair instead. Body hair testing can extend the detection period twice as far as the head test, providing insights into the person's drug use over a more extended period. In cases where no hair is available, a urine test remains the only viable screening option for that individual.

Drug testing ensures safety and compliance by detecting trace metabolites from drug consumption. Traditional urine tests have convenience but struggle with short-lived substances. Hair sample tests offer a 90-day detection window, gaining popularity in industries like trucking. These tests involve collecting 100mg of hair, challenging result manipulation.

In Summary:

Drug use in workplaces extends beyond its impact on individuals; it affects the overall work environment, relationships, and productivity. Ethically, drug use in a professional setting raises concerns, and legally, it can have serious consequences for both the individual and the hiring company—especially when illegal substances like cocaine or marijuana are involved.

Contact WSS for your Hair Drug Test

Workplace Safety Screenings offers precise and swift nationwide hair drug testing services. Our team of drug testing compliance experts can assist you in selecting the most suitable test, ensuring adherence to your state's laws and regulations. We extend our drug and alcohol screening services to employers and individuals across the United States. Our experienced techs are always available to examine hair test results and provide quick notifications.

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