Abellio London Bus adopts fingerprint-based drug testing

Abellio London Bus, one of London’s most innovative public transport companies, has become the first bus operator to adopt new fingerprint-based drug testing technology to support the health and safety of its employees and customers. Abellio operates day and night bus services across London, and will use the portable Intelligent Fingerprinting drug screening system to support random, for cause and post-incident drug testing for its 2,100 drivers and 200 other safety-critical employees.  Alcohol testing will also take place at the same time.

Adopting the Intelligent Fingerprinting solution will enhance Abellio’s previous urine-based testing approach, which proved challenging in terms of observed sample collection, the requirement for gender-specific testing staff and specially-prepared collection areas. In contrast, fingerprint-based testing offers a non-invasive, quicker and more dignified solution to Abellio’s workplace drug testing requirements. The portability of the solution will also enable Abellio to conduct tests of its employees on location at any of its six depots in Central, South and West London.

“At Abellio we’re focused on providing better quality, safer and more convenient transport services for our clients and customers, and we see workplace drug & alcohol testing as an important part of our commitment to ensure a safe service. We found that our existing urine-based drug test was both inconvenient and slow, preventing us from achieving the test coverage we required,” commented Lorna Murphy, Operations Director at Abellio.

“The Intelligent Fingerprinting system directly addresses these issues for Abellio, making the drug screening process much easier, less intrusive for our staff, and also allowing us to test a lot more of our employees, significantly improving our risk management processes. Following union consultation and approval of the Intelligent Fingerprinting system, we’ve now adopted it to enhance our drug and alcohol testing approach and have incorporated the process into our drug and alcohol policy.”

The Intelligent Fingerprinting test works by collecting and analysing fingerprint samples to detect commonly abused drugs, or their metabolites. These substances are detectable in the minute amounts of sweat present in the traces of a person’s fingerprint. The fingerprint drug test is easy-to-use and offers a hygienic and dignified means of supporting a wide range of workplace drug testing scenarios, from pre-employment screens and random drug tests to for cause and post-incident investigations.

Studies confirm that the Intelligent Fingerprinting approach is particularly applicable for workplace drug testing scenarios because this technology offers a shorter ‘window of detection’, meaning a positive result is likely to indicate that a driver or other staff member has taken drugs in the period immediately before starting their shift.  Screening methods with a longer window of detection, such as urine tests, may detect drug use several days earlier – during a day off, for example – even though the employee is no longer under the influence when they provide their sample for testing.

“After they assessed all the available options, we’re delighted that Abellio London Bus decided our fingerprint-based drug testing solution offered just the right balance between meeting their Health and Safety at Work obligations and also supporting their ongoing duty of care towards their employees,” added Intelligent Fingerprinting’s Dr Paul Yates. “ Abellio London Bus is acknowledged as an innovator across the public transport sector, and it’s great that they have adopted our Intelligent Fingerprinting Drug Screening System as part of their best practice operations.”

Fingerprint-based drug testing – how it works

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s drug testing solution features a small, tamper-evident drug screening cartridge which takes less than a minute to collect fingerprint sweat samples. The Intelligent Fingerprinting portable analysis unit then reads the cartridge and provides a positive or negative result on-screen for all drugs in the test in ten minutes.

Following a positive drug screening result, the company’s Fingerprint Collection Kit for Laboratory Analysis enables the tester to collect additional fingerprint samples for laboratory confirmation. These samples are sent for analysis at an accredited laboratory using the tamper-evident security bag and pre-paid returns envelope provided in the kit.

An introductory video demonstrating fingerprint-based drug testing in action is available here.