Health and safety risk management is the cornerstone of the construction industry. So whether an employee is in a business critical role dealing with highly sensitive information or in a safety critical role, operating a company vehicle, HGV or plant machinery, the impact of an incident due to the effects of drugs and alcohol can be astronomical. With recognised guidelines and procedures, addressing specific hazards across the industry, testing for drugs and alcohol is another tool used to mitigate this risk.

Pre-employment  Ensuring the safety of your workforce, subcontractors and the general public is of paramount importance. Utilising drug and alcohol testing as part of your pre-employment checks, ensures you have reliable, staff who are free from the effects of drugs and alcohol on site.

Random  The random selection of employees to be drug and alcohol tested throughout the year reduces the risk of accidents due to drug and alcohol abuse.

For Cause  Following an accident, incident or on reasonable grounds of suspicion a For Cause test can be invoked at short notice.

Know your limits!


An electronic legally defensible breathalyser is most commonly used to test breath samples for the presence of alcohol. There are different limits across the UK to be aware of:

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood
  • 35μg of alcohol per 100ml of breath


  • 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood
  • 22μg of alcohol per 100ml of breath

Due to the safety critical nature of the industry, most organisations in this sector, operate a company limit of 22μg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

Drugs of Abuse

To test for drugs of abuse, most organisations within the construction industry test a urine sample using a point of care test. Using urine to screen for drugs of abuse is considered to be the gold standard across the industry as it is highly reliable and easy to collect and analyse. The detection window for drugs in urine varies is typically between 12 hours – 7 days but varies by drug.

The 12 common drugs of abuse screened for in urine are:

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Buprenorphine
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Ketamine
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamines
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine
  • Propoxyphene

Who collects the samples?

It is up to you who collects the sample. Many of our clients within the construction sector utilise SYNLAB’s national Collection Service. Our impartial, professional Collection Technicians are located across the UK giving you the confidence that we will deliver you a compliant, end-to-end solution to support your business’ needs.

Key benefits of utilising SYNLAB’s Collection Service include:

  • Our Collection Technicians are ISO 17025 accredited to perform urine and saliva chain of custody collections.
  • Robust policies and procedures.
  • Impartial, high quality service.
  • We are digital! All of our Collection Technicians are equipped with tablets to capture all testing information for a professional, seamless service.

Alternatively we can train your employees to conduct drug and alcohol testing on behalf of your organisation. For more information go to our education and training page.

Working with other industries

As an organisation within the construction industry, you will likely interact with other industry sectors when delivering your services.

Choose the industry you are working with for more information:

National Grid or Nuclear Agency

Network Rail or London Underground