The Importance of Drug Testing In The Oilfield

Testing current or potential employees for the presence of illegal substances or alcohol is common among the oil and gas industry, for a number of different reasons regarding a variety of situations or circumstances.

Why though, when many other industries don’t do so, is drug testing in the oilfield so common?

Why Drug Testing Is Important

Drug tests aren’t just important – they are necessary.

The oilfield comes with its fair share of dangerous work environments. Oilfield workers are often dealing with heavy-duty machinery, high-pressure pipelines, toxic liquids and gasses, etc.

These can make for dangerous situations even with a fully capable and alert individual running things – imagine the added dangers these tasks and situations may present if the individual in question was under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

In fact, the safety concerns associated with many of these oilfield related jobs (especially in booming areas like Texas) are the only reason drug testing is legally acceptable for oilfield workers to begin with.

When (and How) Drug Tests Are Conducted


There are two main instances in which drug tests may be administered to oilfield workers.

  • The drug test may be administered upon the proposal of a job contract, with clean test results being a condition of said contract.
  • Anytime an incident involving damaged equipment, or an injury-causing or fatal accident occurs in the workplace, with company equipment, or whilst on the company’s clock.

Some employers may be approved to do random testing in addition to these particular situations, meaning they could test any employee at anytime – but this is less common as it is not easy for companies to prove such testing necessary, as they most often do not have reasonable grounds to assume someone impaired.


There are a variety of different methods that can be used to test whether or not an individual is under the influence. Typically, the type of test used depends on the particular substance being tested for.

  • Breath Tests – these types of tests are the quickest and easiest way to test a person’s blood-alcohol level (Ie: how much alcohol they have in their system at that exact moment).
  • Urine Samples – these tests show the presence (or absence) of drug metabolites in the individual’s urine. Metabolites are certain drug residues that remain in a person’s body even after the effects of the drug have worn off – the length of time these remain in the body depends on the type of drug.
  • Blood Samples – this type of test will measure the actual amount of alcohol or drug in a person’s system at that given time. Blood tests are better indicators of consumption levels than urine tests are, but have a short detection period, as the drugs or alcohol are cleared rather quickly from the bloodstream and into the urine.

What Do You Think?

Most oilfield companies claim to have the best interests of their employees, consumers, and the environment in mind. These companies have to stay true to their mission and values, and drug testing can help them do so by ensuring that safety is one of their main priorities.

Do you support drug testing in the oilfield? We’d love to hear your opinions on why – or why not!

September 6, 2018 3:59 pm

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