Programme of Testing & Analysis (PoTA)

The ‘TOX247 Definition of Workplace Toxicology’

“The use of confirmed and or unconfirmed toxicological sample mediums in a structured Programme of Testing and Analysis, used to examine the adverse effects of or ingestion of illegal and legal substances on an employee or contractor, which affects their Legal Duty to be Fit for Work or contravenes Criminal or Civil legislations, Corporate Governance or Terms and Conditions of employment.” – Jayne Hepple.

What is a PoTA?

A Programme of Testing & Analysis is a situation that has to change globally. For far too long the workplace has been using phrases like: 

1. ‘Test Mediums’, that’s wrong, the phrase should be ‘Sample Mediums’.

2. ‘Testing’, that’s wrong, it’s ‘Testing or Sample Analysis’, explained below.

3. ‘Point of care devices’, this is wrong, it is a clinical phrase for instant result test kits. The workplace uses ‘Due Diligence Devices’ that are simply passed or failed. POC is used in clinical situations, usually controlled by the CQC

4. ‘Presumptive positive’ is used alongside ‘non-negative results’, both phrases are wrong and ambiguous, both are clinical language, not workplace language. The definition of non-negative is either negative or positive. You cannot presume a positive without a toxicology report when dealing with full or part time contracted  employees, you must have evidence to defend your formal decision against challenge.

5. ‘Chain of Custody’, this is wrong, every sample collection is a workplace investigation and the phrases used should be: ‘evidence’, ‘evidence controls’ and ‘evidence continuity’ especially for Back to Laboratory (BTL)  samples.

6. ‘Chain of Custody Form’ (CCF), this is wrong, the donor is not consenting to chain of custody, the donor is consenting to a workplace sample collection which in every request made requires documented consent. The document that collects consent / refusal is also documentary evidence aligned to unconfirmed or confirmed toxicological evidence. At TOX247 Ltd we call it the ‘Sample Collection Consent Form’ (SCCF) and we have both unconfirmed and confirmed toxicology options on the same SCCF.


What is Sample Testing?

  • Testing = Unconfirmed Toxicology (Narrow window only), Due Diligence Device (DDD) instant result, throw away test kits are inconclusive, they are an indicator something may or may not be present. The devices simply provide a chemical reaction on a reagent strip and reflect the due diligence a company applies to the engagement of temporary contracts, sub-contractors or persons who do not have a formal contract within the company. Random employee testing and intervention protocols that may need to escalate to point 2, below. The result is you either pass or fail the company’s DDD protocol. The actions taken thereafter depend on your status as an employee or a contractor.

What is Sample Analysis?

  • Analysis = Confirmed Toxicology Back to Laboratory (BTL), A&B sample submission that is as conclusive as it can be in evidence, reported by a Toxicology Reporting Officer (TRO), not a medical review officer (MRO). This type of analysis can be applied to any situation where definitive evidence is required to defend the company or defend against challenge by an employee who has rights in law. Historical analysis of potential employees who do not yet have a contract, or the contract is subject to the applicant passing the sample analysis, will certainly prevent substance management problems manifesting in the workplace undetected.

Each of the above definitions are applied to the TOX247 three categories of need to test or analyse employee or contractor samples, which are:

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3
Testing or analysis for statutory illegal substances or legally prescribed substances used illegally. Generally, the employer will have no knowledge of a donor’s use of illegal substances, it is only the PoTA that will expose / detect this illegal activity. Illegal substances are simply used: you cannot misuse an illegal substance, the fact it is illegal dictates there are no legal guidelines. The measure of illegal substance use is: Casual, Regular, or Chronic / Chaotic. 

Note: Category 1 involves illegal drug use, generally having a zero tolerance in the workplace with a mandatory countermeasure by law, insurance obligations and in the interests H&S and other legislations. It is the toxicology of analysis that will be applied to company contracted employees. It is the unconfirmed toxicology of DDD testing that is applied to contractors and other situations such as induction protocols and more.
Testing or analysis for legal substances where the measure is Misuse, Abuse, Disorder has developed or is developing. Category 2 allows for those employees who are suffering the side-effects of debilitating medications to declare the fact they are not able to meet their legal duty to be fit for work. It is also testing for legal substances, such as alcohol, which can become illegal in certain situations and where limits need to be set within the company SAMP. Generally, the employer will have no knowledge of this and rely on the PoTA to expose / detect a problem that requires the employee, or a situation, to be managed. 

Note: Category 2 involves legal substance use/misuse/abuse/disorders, which requires the employer to have mandatory management countermeasure by law, insurance obligations and in the interests H&S and other legislations. It is the toxicology of the sample that will be used in evidence.

Testing and analysis provided under the controls of a structured Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) intervention that allows the employer to manage Categories 1 & 2 in the full knowledge they must manage the donor’s self-referral to a conclusion or commercial decision. In all situations of Category 3, the employer now has full knowledge of the employee’s predicament, whether illegal substance use or legal substance misuse / abuse / disorder exists. 

Note – Category 3 requires that an employee has to meet the EAP enrolment criteria before they can be enrolled voluntarily into a substance management intervention for an ultimate decision as to their fitness carry on working in the company in the same or another capacity. This category requires the employer to have mandatory management countermeasure by law, insurance obligations in the interests H&S and other legislations. An employee who self refers an issue cannot be dismissed for the reason they self-refer. Assessments, practices, processes, and procedures must be conducted for formal decision making regarding the employee within Corporate Governance. It is the toxicology of analysis that will be evidential.


Sample Mediums

  • Cut Head or Body Hair (Wide Window sample medium)
  • Nail Clippings (Wide Window sample medium)
  • Saliva (Narrow Window sample medium)
  • Urine (Narrow Window sample medium)
  • Deep Lung Breath Alcohol (Narrow Window sample medium)

Other Physiological Sample Mediums

  • Blood: It is TOX247 Ltd opinion that a blood sample collection is an invasive sample collection and too expensive / impractical to collect in most workplace environments. Blood is the narrowest window of all sample mediums, generally 24-hours. If a donor is a regular substance user, they only need to abstain from substance use / misuse for 24 hours-48 hours to beat a blood test / analysis.
  • Sweat: While useful in certain situations such as swabbing locations, sweat is not best suited to workplace sample collections due to innocent cross-contamination issues, in the opinion of TOX247 Ltd. Sweat is another narrow window sample medium, with substances generally detectable up to eight days after last use. The burdens of proof with sweat are too labour intensive to manage without intensive swabbing of surfaces vehicles etc.
  • Fingerprint: Like sweat, fingerprint drug testing is fraught with too many innocent cross contamination issues and requires too much management to prove or disprove cross contamination, in the opinion of TOX247 Ltd. Fingerprint is a limited narrow window sample medium of around 48-hours with a more limited panel of drugs.

Remember, if you call law enforcement to your business regarding an illegal substance management issue, your burden of proof moves to the highest level, beyond all reasonable doubt. They are only interested in the evidence of prosecuting a specific law which has been broken. Law enforcement do not resolve your underlying issues or workplace countermeasures and management that sit in the balance of probability. Be sure you are in control of your business and its Corporate Governance. You will not have any employee / profession that has our knowledge or expert witness testimony, give us a call, our experts will guide you through the process.

There is much more to this TOX247 PoTA process. We will work with you, for you and your employees. The PoTA is just one part of the overall TOX247 Workplace Substance Management Programme (WSMP).