Observed Collections

When Do You Perform an Observed Collection for Drug Testing?

Drug testing has become a crucial aspect of many industries, particularly those that involve safety-sensitive positions. Employee drug testing is not only required as per regulatory requirements, but also has become a common practice in many work environments. For effective drug testing, an observed collection is often considered the most reliable method for ensuring drug test accuracy. In this blog post, you will learn about when to perform an observed collection, why it is necessary, and who is required to follow this protocol.

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Observed collection is the process of collecting a urine sample in the presence of a trained, certified professional, and with the assurance of compliance. Some instances necessitate an observed collection instead of a regular collection. When drug testing is performed as per regulatory requirements, specific guidelines must be followed, which highlight the requirement of observed collections.

One such reason is in case of a “Return to Duty” test. This is a test given to an employee after they have tested positive for drugs or alcohol on a previous test. After successfully completing a substance abuse program, the employee must take a “Return to Duty” test, which requires an observed collection to ensure the employee has followed the regulations for clean specimens. An observed collection ensures that the employee cannot tamper with the test results, which further ensures fair play.

Another reason to perform an observed collection is in the case of “Follow-Up” testing. Returning to duty does not mean the case is closed and the employee will not use drugs or alcohol again. Follow-up testing is a means of ensuring that the employee stays clean to protect other employees and the company. An employee must be informed of the center’s random testing policy during the observed collection, as well as the consequences for drug and alcohol use.

One other reason why observed collections are necessary is when the urine sample “looks” suspicious. For example, if the temperature of the urine collected is outside the normal range, there are traces of foreign substances in the sample or the specimen is considered “cold.” The collector is often required to observe the sample collection process following a “cold” specimen. This is why most centers use restrooms that do not have running water, and all water sources are locked. There is little room for cheating while the professional collector is in the vicinity.

In case an individual is caught cheating and trying to tamper with the urine sample, an observed collection can be conducted as a penalty. This penalty can come into action whenever an employee is asked to provide a prospective or random drug test, and they have already been caught cheating once. Typically in non-reg testing, after it has been determined that the employee has tampered with the specimen, the employer has the discretion to decide if the employee requires future drug testing with an observed collection or dismiss them from work.  With Regulated testing (DOT), an observed collection must be utilized if cheating on the drug test occurs.

In regards to DOT testing, there is a new rule that was rolled out in 2023.  The rules specifies if the individual is a transgender or binary, then rules specify what must happen.  The transgender binary drug screen observed collection must utilize oral fluid drug screen.  Point of interest – the rules were published in 2023 however, a few items must happen before the first DOT Saliva test is collected:

  1. FDA must approve a Split specimen that meets the DOT’s requirements.
  2. Two labs must be SAMHSA Certified, and both labs must use the same device.
  3. DOT collectors must be trained and certified to perform DOT Saliva collections.

In certain cases, observed collection may be mandatory. It is the most reliable approach to ensure drug test accuracy and is a crucial aspect of workplace drug testing. Employers should take note of the importance of observed collection and stay abreast with the regulations governing regulated and non-regulated testing. Employers must ensure that the testing is done objectively, resulting in a fair experience and reliable results. For any drug test near me, a reliable non-reg center should be selected to cater to non-regulated testing. Observed collections mainly need to be conducted for “Return to Duty” testing and “Follow-Up” testing regularly; it is a way of ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. Need a drug testing or employee screening expert.  Let our 30 Years of Experience and Technology be your peace of mind.  Need to speak with a drug testing expert?  ?  Contact our knowledgeable support staff today at 844-573-8378 or support@workplacescreening.com