Train operator switches to ‘safer’ oral drug tests

Train operator Midland Mainline is to introduce oral drug testing to improve
safety on the railways, following a successful pilot scheme.

The company expects to have incorporated the test into its drug testing
policy by the summer.

Midland Mainline will be the first train operator in the UK to use the
saliva test in response to concerns that traditional urine tests are
unreliable.

HR manager Phil Mason explained: "The test should address the increase
in drug use in society. Urine testing is unreliable – serious drug takers know
of ways to mask drug taking through urine tests. Now, when an employee is
tested we can be confident the test is a clear reading."

The two-minute oral test, which collects a sample of saliva from the gums,
is also quicker and cheaper than the traditional test for the company.

Under the current policy staff have to travel to centres in Leicester and
London to be tested, and can be off work for up to six hours depending on where
they are based.

Mason said these costs will be reduced significantly, as the new test is
simpler to perform and can be done on-site. He estimates the test is also 25
per cent cheaper to conduct than the urine version – before the signing of
staff off work is taken into account.

These savings mean Mainland Midland, which employs around 900 staff, will be
able to increase the number of drug tests it carries out for its £20,000 annual
testing budget.

By Paul Nelson

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