20/08/2018 – News / Science & Technology / Innovation / Drug Testing / Intelligent Fingerprinting / UK

World’s first fingerprint-based portable drug testing system could prove vital to the Utilities sector


Cambridge-based Intelligent Fingerprinting – developer of the world’s first fingerprint-based drug test – is simplifying workplace drug testing across the Utilities sector with the availability of a simple-to-use, portable drug testing solution that’s based on revolutionary fingerprint sweat analysis technology.


Unlike traditional urine or saliva-based drug tests that can be invasive, time-consuming and undignified for testers and employees, the portable Intelligent Fingerprinting drug testing solution is convenient, hygienic and quick to deploy – wherever it is needed across a utility firm’s own operation – or their extended supply chain including contractors. 


Potential areas of deployment


Potential areas of deployment could include Electricity Suppliers – to test meter-reading fleet drivers, ‘at height’ pylon or network maintenance engineers, and sub-station operators at risk of high voltage contact. 


Another application area could be with Gas Suppliers – for personnel involved in depot maintenance, pipeline repairs, crane operators or heavy lifting equipment. 


Water Treatment presents a further prospective sector for the new technology, for testing sewerage works maintenance personnel, pipe replacement engineers, and heavy plant drivers.


Addressing a serious workplace concern


“With almost 1 in 10 UK workers admitting to recent drug use, and 16 per cent of UK employers reporting that they have had suspicions about staff members being under the influence of drugs, it is clear that drug misuse remains a serious concern when it comes to health and safety in the workplace,” said Dr Paul Yates of Intelligent Fingerprinting. 


“Our fingerprint-based approach supports all forms of workplace drug testing for utility firms, including pre-employment screening as well as random and for-cause testing, and is particularly useful to support ongoing Health & Safety and Duty of Care obligations. Fingerprint-based drug testing is ideal for organisation-wide deployments, or can be introduced gradually to complement existing drug testing approaches. 


“End-to-end system”


“The new end-to-end system features an initial screening test that works by analysing sweat from a fingerprint to determine if an employee – or sub contractor who has agreed to the umbrella organisation’s safe working charter – has recently used cocaine, opiates, amphetamines or cannabis. Sample collection takes only five seconds, with simultaneous screening results for all four drug groups provided in ten minutes,” added Dr Yates.


Should a utility firm’s employee or a contractor’s drug screen test positive – in contravention of an organisation’s existing drug and alcohol policy – the tester would then use Intelligent Fingerprinting’s Fingerprint Collection Kit for Laboratory Analysis to collect samples for a confirmation test. The kit for the laboratory confirmation service includes everything required to securely send the collected samples to the testing laboratory including a tamper-evident security bag, barcodes to maintain anonymous sample identity and a postage-paid returns envelope.


“It is essential that utility organisations and their employees are completely confident in the accuracy of their drug testing procedures, regardless of whether they’re testing urine, saliva or sweat,” added Dr Yates. “For this reason, a laboratory confirmation test should always be carried out following a positive screening result. With our non-invasive system – which combines the portable reader with the simple one-touch drug screening cartridge, and the unequivocal results offered with our Fingerprint Collection Kit for Laboratory Analysis – utility providers can now benefit from the flexibility and ease-of-use of fingerprint-based drug tests, while also being completely confident about the end-to-end reliability of their process.”


Fingerprint-based drug testing: how it works

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s end-to-end drug testing solution features a single-use, tamper-evident drug-screening cartridge which takes just five seconds to collect a sweat sample. The Intelligent Fingerprinting portable analysis unit then reads the cartridge and provides a positive or negative result on-screen for cocaine, opiates, cannabis and amphetamines in 10 minutes.


Should an employee’s initial screening test prove positive for any of the four drugs tested – in contravention of a firm’s drug and alcohol policy – two further samples for confirmation are gathered using the Intelligent Fingerprinting Fingerprint Collection Kit for Laboratory Analysis. Informed written consent is obtained from the donor prior to sample collection, along with a statement of the donor’s prescription medication, if applicable.


Once the confirmatory samples have been collected, the Fingerprint Collection Cartridges are sent in a tamper-evident security bag to Intelligent Fingerprinting’s partner laboratory for analysis. The laboratory then provides the customer with a quantitative laboratory result in the form of a Certificate of Analysis.

Founded in 2007, Intelligent Fingerprinting is a spin-out company from the University of East Anglia (UEA).  The company is based in Cambridge, England, and currently employs around 30 people.


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