Energy & Utilities

Health and safety risk management is the cornerstone of the energy and utilities industry. With recognised and robust guidelines and procedures, addressing specific hazards, testing for drugs and alcohol is another tool to mitigate risks associated with their misuse within your workforce.

SYNLAB work with many of the UK’s leading energy and utilities providers, who recognise the potential risks of drug and alcohol misuse and the impact it can have on their workforce, public safety and company reputation.  Adopting a drug and alcohol policy within your organisation is a vital tool to help protect you from the risks associated with substance misuse.

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 you pre-employment checks ensures you have reliable, staff who are free from the effects of drugs and alcohol on site.

If your organisation is sponsoring employees to work within the energy and utilities industry, read more about this below.

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!

Alcohol

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

Scotland

  • 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 this industry test a urine sample. Screening a urine sample 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 by drug, but is typically between 12 hours and 7 days.

The 10 common drugs of abuse screened for in urine are:

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

Working for the National Grid or on a Nuclear Site

Some organisation within the energy and utilities industry operate their own bespoke profiles. If you are working for the National Grid, or a site with nuclear capabilities you may have a pre-employment drug and alcohol test as part of the site security induction process.

Under both of these standards, to test for drugs of abuse, a urine sample is collected and sent into an ISO 17025  approved laboratory, where the samples are screened against the following profiles:

National Grid Nuclear Site
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Ketamine
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamines
  • Opiates
  • Propoxyphene
  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamines
  • Opiates

An electronic legally defensible breathalyser is used to test breath samples for the presence of alcohol under the National Grid guidelines.

Who collects the samples?

Many of the sites operated within the energy sector have strong security protocols, due to the sensitive nature of what is going on at site. This coupled, with additional health surveillance monitoring of employees, means many organisations have their own occupation health teams who perform drug and alcohol testing on behalf of their organisation.

If you do not have an Occupational Health team, or would prefer a third party to complete the testing on behalf of your organisation, you can utilise SYNLAB’s national drug and alcohol Collection Service. More information on our Collection Service can be found here.