When it comes to drug collecting, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has set the benchmark for protocol. Their best practices ensure that collection agencies follow the strictest chain of custody so that the specimen is never compromised—and is always accurate.
At Alia, we always follow DOT protocol, even when it’s not mandated. We call it The Alia Way. Our drug collection team upholds the highest standards in the drug testing industry.
Why should you care about following the strictest rules and regulations—even when you’re not mandated to do so? Here Alia President Sonia Aquino shares the benefits:
Question: What are some of the dangers of not following protocol?
Aquino: I have heard horror stories of donors who didn’t see their specimen sealed, or who witnessed several filled urine cups in the area they were being tested. The concern, of course, is that theirs would be mixed-up with or tainted by another specimen. DOT-trained technicians go through training that ensures the chain of custody is ironclad—so these types of mix-ups don’t happen.
Also, some non-mandated drug collection agencies don’t witness the entire collection process. When a collector isn’t observing, a donor can secretly substitute a specimen. A non-mandated drug collector might not see the switch-up.
Is protocol ever resisted?
Mostly by donors, not employers. It’s a deterrent for employees who plan to substitute a specimen that likely would test positive. As soon as they find out we observe DOT protocol—and witness every second of the collection process—they walk out.
Isn’t that good for employers?
Yes, it ensures that the best people are employed. DOT pre-employment, random, and follow-up drug testing standards, for instance, weed out those employees who might be liabilities. We’ve had employees quit when they learn that we follow DOT protocol and that they can’t outwit the system. This is great for an employer, who then doesn’t have to deal with discipline or discharge. It puts the onus on the employee.
If an employer holds the same standard across the board, they will have quality people working for them. Their absenteeism will probably decrease, and their workers comp will likely decrease as well.
When does it benefit the employee?
Strict protocol ensures that a result that hasn’t been substituted or adulterated. This especially matters if a drug charge escalates. Say a union contests the specimen; by following a strict protocol the specimen is legally defensible. That means less paperwork and affidavits. When a specimen is questionable, companies are forced to gather more information or provide an incident report. This is a headache because you have to chase a lengthy paper trail, which isn’t always neat or orderly.
So what do you look for in a drug collection agency to identify they are adhering to a strict protocol?
Ask about their training. At Alia, for instance, we put our collectors through rigorous DOT training multiple times a year so that they know—and follow—every detail of the drug collecting procedure. Each year they must pass a test with a 90% or better. And we even do periodic on-site audits of our collectors to ensure they are following protocol to a T.
Also, check out the cleanliness of their facility. If a collection site is dirty—or if the collectors don’t bring items to ensure the off-site collection facility is clean—you might be concerned about the integrity of the specimen.
Finally, ask about their record-keeping system. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for paperwork when you need it immediately (especially during an audit). Many drug collection agencies take months to provide simple paperwork—and often the documentation isn’t clear or thorough. Our strict protocol demands we document every part of the collection process. And within 72 hours, the employer has access to the records—so they can make important personnel decisions.
A strict protocol makes sure you get it done right the first time—and that you have the records to prove it.