Cansford Labs - The Drug and Alcohol Testing Blog

Why speed is of the essence for workplace drug tests

Posted by John Wicks on Jun 20, 2018
Why speed is of the essence for workplace drug testing

When it comes to workplace drug testing, the speed at which a test is carried out - and analysed - might not seem like a top priority. But it should be.

The longer it takes for a sample to be collected, tested and analysed, the more it costs your company - in more ways than you might imagine.

In the world of workplace testing, many industries tackle this by using point of care tests such as urine, saliva or sometimes blood tests to get almost instant results. That may be appropriate if you are trying to establish if an employee is under the influence at the time of testing. But no good if you are trying to establish a pattern of usage which is what hair tests are good at.Question about a hair test? Get in touch today to speak with an expert

Hair tests, however, have to be collected properly, sent to labs, analysed and interpreted all of which is perceived, wrongly, as a long drawn out process. Certainly some testing companies do take a while to get results back - usually ones that don’t own their own lab space and rely on European testing companies to run tests. But as we show below, Cansford has that 99% of the results are returned to clients within 48h, and we have worked hard to produce a testing method which puts speed and accuracy at its heart to achieve these results.

Unlike hair testing, point of care tests have a reputation for speedy results, but they come with their own set of problems. These types of tests can only give a presumed positive and need to be corroborated by more accurate testing methods (such as hair). This involves additional cost and time spend sending a sample off to a lab as well. In the meantime, the employee is put on fully paid leave for the time it takes to get a confirmed result.

Cansford Labs turnaround times

Not all labs are the same. Our quick turnaround prevents many problems which can arise as a result of a lengthy drug testing and analysis process. Here’s why speed is a crucial factor in workplace drug testing.

Time is money

If an employee is suspected of drug misuse, you have a problem. The longer you take to resolve that problem, the more it costs your company financially. If they have been suspended with partial or full pay, every day they are absent but being paid is essentially wasted revenue.

According to the TUC’s WorkSmart, around 17 million working days (up to 5% of absences) are lost annually due to alcohol. These absences cost the UK economy over £7.3 billion a year. In addition to the obvious financial costs, prolonged absence or uncertainty can have a negative impact on overall productivity.

Our 48-hour hair test minimises this problem and allows employers to plan for absence. Instead of employees staying off work for up to ten days, with Cansford, employers know that if the test is negative, they’ll be back at work within 48 hours.

All in all, every minute counts when it comes to the financial repercussions of employee drug use.

The importance of accuracy

Speed only makes sense if it’s combined with accuracy. If the results aren’t accurate or viable, the speed of the test is irrelevant.

Recent scandals such as Motherisk highlight the importance of diligent process and accuracy within drug testing. Last year, it was revealed that the Canadian drug testing clinic had been conducting flawed and inaccurate tests for over two decades. The tests left many families devastated and unfairly torn apart. Their actions also left a stain on the reputation of drug testing as a whole.

Without accurate results, drug testing is likely to do more harm than good; employees could be unfairly dismissed or allowed to continue working in high-risk, safety-sensitive jobs; the process is likely to end up taking longer and the reputation of your business could be at risk. The implications are far-reaching both for individuals and the business as a whole.

Speed without accuracy is pointless, but the two together will save your company time and money as well as protecting the interests of all your employees.


In short, a quick and accurate turnaround time for hair testing is in everyone’s best interests whether you’re a family lawyers, social worker or member of the public awaiting court. While many labs have a two week turnaround time, here at Cansford Labs, we can test and provide a full report within three days of the sample being collected. Our efficient, highly accurate methods will save you time, money and stress.

You can learn more about hair testing and our turnaround times here.