Employee hair drug testing: how does it work?

While urine drug tests have been the go-to for employers for many years, more and more employers are shifting towards hair drug testing.

And it’s clear why.

Hair drug testing provides up to a 90-day view of drug use history, compared to a urine drug test which may only be a few days. Additionally, some studies claim it’s up to 10x more effective.

How does it work?

Hair drug testing analyzes parent drug and metabolites in the hair shaft and tests for drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, PCP, and marijuana. The collector will take hair samples of ~1.5 inches (1/2 inch represents ~30 days of hair growth). After confirming identifying information, the collector will cut between 100 and 120 hairs from the crown of the head. If hair on the head is short, body hair can also be used. The collector will then place the hair in foil and then in a secure envelope to be mailed for overnight testing. While hair drug testing does show drugs in someone’s system for a longer period of time than urine, it also takes a little longer after consumption for those drugs to be visible in testing. Usually, it can take 4-10 days after ingestion for drugs to show in hair tests.

When should it be used?

Pre-employment screening and employee random testing are both great use cases for drug hair testing. Should it be used post-accident/incident, consider the time period it takes post-ingestion for drugs to show in these types of tests. Urine tests may be better in this scenario. For more information on hair drug testing and how our team of experts can help, get in touch today.

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