Nail drug testing for pre-employment is increasingly common in the workplace and is particularly important during the recruitment process to ensure the future safety of a company and its employees. Pre-employment drug testing can help you find suitable candidates for a position and can form part of a pre-employment medical before taking someone on board.

The negative effects of drugs and alcohol misuse at work can significantly impact on productivity. The main advantage of pre-employment testing is that it establishes a company ethos for everyone to adhere to. As well as acting as a deterrent, it will discourage substance abusers from applying for a position. Combined with regular workplace drug testing, this will encourage all staff to follow the rules, reducing your potential for revenue loss and legal problems.

Today’s increased availability of drugs can lead to critical staffing problems for your business or even legal action. As such, there are many sectors that can benefit from pre-employment testing, but this is especially important for safety critical positions, where accidents due to lack of concentration or intoxication can cause major accidents and health and safety breaches.

Why nail drug testing for pre-employment?

Nail testing is a preferred option for pre-employment drug testing because it can give a timeframe of drug use of up to 12 months and the sample can be easily collected in an unobtrusive manner. Hair testing can also determine a drug history of up to 12 months, but requires a pencil width area of hair to be removed near to the scalp. This is always collected from a discreet area, whenever possible, but depends on the length of hair available.

Other drug testing options, including oral fluid and urine testing, do not give such a long history of drug misuse, and have a window of detection of only hours to days.

Nails also have the advantage of being a highly stable, simple-to-collect and easy-to-transport sample. Both finger nails and toe nail clippings can be tested for methamphetamine, amphetamine, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), ketamine, mephedrone, methadone, opiates and zolpidem.

Sample collection for nail drug testing

Nail clippings need to be taken as near to the nail bed as possible. If the nail is long (5 mm or above) then only one would be required. If the nails are short then it may be best to take clippings from a couple of nails. Either fingernails or toenails can be used for the drug test, but not a mixture. Approximately 10 mg of nail is required in total. The advantage of using toe nails is that there is less potential for contamination. Acrylic nails, Shellac and other forms of nail varnish would need to be removed as this may damage the surface of the nail and impact on the drug results.

Nail drug testing results can be turned around within only 3 days.

AlphaBiolabs can create a bespoke workplace drug and alcohol testing programme for your business and implement this policy for a fully managed solution. For a consultation with no obligation, or information on any of our workplace testing services, call us on 0333 600 1300 or email at