Network Rail drug testing – RISQS approved
Drug and Alcohol Testing

Network Rail drug and alcohol testing is considered best practice in the safety industry. Employees in the UK rail industry must be free from the effects of alcohol or drugs whilst at work. This applies to employees in safety critical roles or who hold PTS (Personal Track Safety) cards.

Crystal Health Group can help you achieve this important responsibility. We provide drug and alcohol testing services to Network Rail and subcontractors. We provide this service through the Rail Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS). In addition, by way of annual external audit, we are an approved supplier under the scheme. Our supplier number is 5663. View the certificate here.

What is the process for Network Rail drug testing?

Firstly, we will arrange a convenient appointment for you. This can be on-site at your place of work. Or, we can arrange an off-site appointment for you at one of our selected RISQS approved clinics. After this, we will request specific information from you. For example, your Network Rail Sentinel number. If you do not have a Sentinel number at this point, you must request this from your sponsor. However, we can provide advice on this if required.

Secondly, the collection officer will collect a urine sample from the identified test donor. Also, the collection and storage of a ‘B’ urine sample is undertaken. To ensure compliance to Network Rail standards, strict chain of custody protocols are in place. For example, this includes strict ID requirements and anti-adulteration measures. In addition, the donor will be breathalysed and measured against the alcohol cut-off level. Currently this is:

The Railway Group Standard defines a positive alcohol result as being over 13μg of alcohol per 100ml of breath.


Urine testing at the laboratory

At the RISQS approved laboratory, urine samples undergo an initial screen. All negative screens are a ‘PASS’ and uploaded to Sentinel.

Non-negative screens will proceed to a confirmation testing phase. At this stage, we can differentiate between illicit drugs and prescription medication. Next, a review is undertaken of all positive confirmation results by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). An MRO is a trained professional, working in the Occupational Health sector. They are responsible for reviewing and evaluating positive results, and their possible explanations.


What drugs do Network Rail test for?

As required, we test the following drug groups for Network Rail:

Amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, Cannabis, Cocaine, Methadone, Opiates, Propoxyphene, MDMA (Ecstasy), Tramadol and Ketamine.


Alcohol testing for Network Rail

A Home Office approved Breath Alcohol device screens for ethanol. The alcohol cut-off level of 14 as required by Network Rail protocols. The Railway Group Standard defines a positive alcohol result as being over 13μg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. Furthermore, if we are unable to obtain a breath sample for whatever reason, alcohol can be tested in the urine sample.


Network Rail Test Results

We upload all Network Rail drug and alcohol results to the Sentinel system. Sentinel is the Rail Industry’s electronic safety system which operates across the UK. Also, we can provide ‘Rail Standard’ testing for non-Sentinel purposes. For example, we provide drug and alcohol testing services for Euro Star crew. But, this does not fall under the remit of Network Rail. However, we provide the ‘Rail Standard’ test to maintain a level of consistency and compliance.


Summary of benefits

  • We operate a network of drug testing clinics and sample collection officers throughout the UK. In addition, we certify and train all sample collection officer to RISQS standards. As a result, they adhere to strict chain of custody protocols.
  • UKAS 17025 accredited Laboratory facilities.
  • Donor Advice information provided to each sample donor.
  • A Home Office approved Breath Alcohol device provide instant results. In addition, urine screen results are reported within 2 working days of sample collection.
  • Efficient paperless reporting system with results uploaded to the Network Rail Sentinel system. In addition, we provide a Medical Review Service to confirm positive drug test results. However. Extra costs may apply for this service.
  • Also, Rail Safety Critical Medical Assessments are available at selected centres throughout the UK.