hair sample vs. urine sample

I just received a notice from our company doctor that they will now offer hair sampling drug screens. The letter states that drugs can be detected for 60-90 days in hair follicles, and there is no way someone can tamper with this the way they can with urine samples.

My question: Do hair samples only detect past use? Or can it also detect recent use, such as last night? In other words, does this test whether or not someone is currently under the influence of a drug, or does it just test for past use? (Or is a person considered under the influence of a drug even if it was something they took 2 months ago, as long as it creates a positive drug screen?)

I would appreciate any thoughts on these screens, and or stories of experience with them (good or bad.)

Thank you!


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  • Lorrie,

    I don't know the answer to those questions, but you may have a resource that does. The company who generates our random list produces articles and newsletters and FAQ's. Maybe you could check with the firm who provides your selection list.

    Just an idea.
  • We were considering hair samples for our drug testing but decided it was too invasive. What do you do with someone who is bald? The shaved head is a trend these days and we'd have a lot of people who would have to produce hair from somewhere other than the head. We scrapped the idea and kept the urine test.
  • MUSHROOMHR: Simply stated, one would get a hair sample from some other part of the body. Baldness makes zero difference. While the drugs or alcohol effects the brain and its function the drug chemicals will also travel and be located in any hair sample.

    We, as an employer, should only be invasive when we have to be. The hair and blood test are much more expensive. We choose to urine screen because the read out is fast and effective. We use the blood and hair testing procedures as an election by the employee to disprove the positive findings of a urine sample. Given the ee chooses to appeal the positive result, we give the suspended ee the next 24 hours to return with the test which is more sensitive than the urine sample. After twenty-four hours the suspension is changed to be a termination for the violationof company policy. Within the 24 hours the ee is suspended without pay, if he returns with the documentation that he has provided a hair or blood sample, we simply change his/her suspension to a suspension with pay, which is only paid after the return of the written negative result. Without the final result the urine screen must be considered as valid and the ee remains under the influence, so he/she is not put back to working. Safety issues precludes taking a chance, sure it might cost the company to pay someone who was wrongly accused, but someone potentially under the influence might just cause bigger concerns to arise.

  • PORK--mushroom did state that hair would have to come from someplace else but her company felt it was too invasive to go there!
  • CLARKBAR: I'm talking ARM, LEG There is nothing evasive about these hairs.

    PORK, oink, oink
  • Hair sample testing only reveals historical drug use, not current illegal use. Last week's or last night's pot smoking will fly under the radar.

    Note: The preceeding is my personal opinion and has no value beyond that. Although it may be 'sorta offensive' or 'indeed offensive' to someone out there, it is offered without regard to that possibility. Should you find yourself alarmed by my post, you may privately mail me to protest or you may alert the principal's office. x:-)
  • Our safety manager got a "wild hair", so to speak, and decided to implement hair testing for pre-employment WITHOUT telling either the plant manager or the HR department. Needless to say, the usual 24-hour turn-around on the urinalysis suddenly disappeared, to be replaced by the 5 or so days it took to get the hair test results. Our managers, who needed to get people hired yesterday, were not amused - as soon as this came to light, I had a stern talking-to with the plant manager and the safety manager that pre-employment screening was an HR function, and we returned to the urine screen.

    Hair testing does a good job of showing history of drug use, so as PORK said, it's great for disproving a positive urine screen. However, as Don D stated, it won't confirm recent drug use, so it's of no use with for-cause or post-accident testing. My opinion - not enough bang for the buck.
  • If I'm not mistaken, the blood test Pork alludes to, is a medical examination and invites further regulation, whereas a urinalysis is not. vrooom vrooom.

    Note: The preceeding is my personal opinion and has no value beyond that. Although it may be 'sorta offensive' or 'indeed offensive' to someone out there, it is offered without regard to that possibility. Should you find yourself alarmed by my post, you may privately mail me to protest or you may alert the principal's office. x:-)
  • "Dandy Don": If one intends to test one's employees all four test methods result in the final review by a licensed Medical Review Officer, a physician who is trained in this issue. There is an alcohol screen instrument for breath content of alcohol which is not a invasive medical procedure. A positive breath alcohol result taken by a trained employee of the employer is only used to SCREEN. A positive result would help one identify a person who the employer would not want to let remain on the job and would most likely take the person to the contracted MRO certified physician and have the Alcohol Breather test accomplished, which would become evidence for legal proceedings. Other than this screen, all alcohol & drug testing is a medical procedure: Breath, Urine, Hair, and Blood. Additionally, when accomplished by a certified physician and lab, each is able to carry its weight in any court of law.

    As stated in my previous post, we use the Breath and Urine testing as our evidence for administering our company policy of zero tolerance for the use of any controlled substance while "on the job". We use then the BLOOD & HAIR testing procedure as the suspended employee's opportunity (at his/her expense)to challenge the positive result of either the Breath or Urine test. Given a document from the employee and his personal physician which indicates he/she has provided a hair or blood speciment for testing, we would delay the termination action until the result has come back and been provided and verified as coming from the certified lab with a negative result, we would cancel the suspension and put the employee back to work.

    It works for us, and I highly recommend this procedure. Blood and Hair testing is in fact more sensitive than the breath and urine testing, while it may be true that they will not test for last nights use of controlled substance, a positive result is a positive result regardless of the time frame of use. The considerable expense of the these testing procedures will send the guilty person packing and the innocent person will be put back to work!

    In all of my years in the HR field I have not had one employee with a positive finding successfully turn a suspension and termination action around by using the "challenge system" of a blood and/or hair test paid for by the employee.

    Everyone have a nice and Blessed day!


  • It has been a few years, but I applied for a job, got the offer and then after filling out the paperwork, was told I would need to stop by a clinic for a physical. It was on my way to my current job, so I stopped by. After putting me through extensive CRAP, running in heels, or stockings (risking injury) that the nurse told me I had to do a urine sample, she then said, oh wait, they want a hair sample. I said well OK, how much. She said an inch in diameter. I am not a fool. It does not take an inch in diameter to perfom a drug test on hair. A couple of pieces will sufice. She remained determined that it had to be that much hair. Yes I am a lady, and Yes I AM not about to let someone whack off a visible amount of hair. I WALKED. My point is, if you must do this, and I am not oppoesed to drug testing, then please by all means seek a professional source to perfom the testing.
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