Employee drug testing in Australia: What to know

Why is Drug Testing Performed?

There are several reasons for drug screening checks like:

  • To provide a safe environment for other employees.
  • To save the company from future harms.
  • Prevention of hiring drug-addicted employees.
  • To check the health status of present employees.
  • To follow the Australian State Laws regarding employee drug tests.
  • Depreciate drug use.

Screening tests

Screening tests include all protocols of drug testing in the individual—established protocols for these practices, given by Australian Federal agencies and mentioned in State Laws.

Laboratories verify the results, and a Medical Officer signs the final health document. Screening tests should ensure the validity of results.

  • The results of screening tests should be kept private. There is a Chain of Custody to ensure the privacy of results and to protect the employees' samples.
  • Before carrying out any screening tests, you must have the informed consent of the person.
  • Lab technicians take samples from a person's secretions like urine, saliva, sweat, and blood, breath, and hair follicles. Hair follicles samples give the most extended history of drug use, approximately about 90 days. In comparison, blood samples give information about active drugs in the body.
  • When the technician takes the sample, then he should split it into two. It will help not to disturb the employee and will also save time.
  • Initial screening tests include immunoassays. If the results are positive, then further tests are performed.
  • If the tests' results are positive, then the concerned authorities perform tests like mass spectrometry and gas chromatographic tests.

Types of Screening Tests

There are several screening tests for the analysis of drugs in the body. Some of them are the following:

  1. Urinal analysis detects the concentration of drug metabolites of the person. It is a rapid test for alcohol consumption.
  2. Blood testing detects all physiologically active drugs in the body and gives more accurate information than urine testing.
  3. Hair follicle testing gives the results of the history of drug use. It can detect alcohol in the blood.
  4. Body fluids test gives information about alcohol and drugs like cocaine, marijuana, opium, etc.
  5. The breath test gives information about alcohol levels in the blood. The results of this test are in numbers. If a person crosses the safe limits of this test, then he might get a rejection notice.

These results of the screening checks depend upon:

  • The last time when the person has used alcohol or drugs.
  • The frequency of drug usage.
  • The amount of drug usage.
  • Sometimes medicines have amounts of relaxing medications in them.

Drugs Tested in Employee Screening

Five drugs, rather than alcohol, are tested in all screening tests. These are the following:

  1. Cocaine
  2. Opiates
  3. THC
  4. Amphetamines
  5. Phencyclidines

Some companies also have protocols for more drugs like:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Propoxyphene
  • Methaqualone
  • Benzodiazepines

If the results are still affirmative, then a registered medical officer with specialised training will verify the results.

The employers do these screening tests under certain circumstances like:

  • Before hiring an employee, if his results are positive, then he or she may not be preferred (depending on the job role and their level of contact with vulnerable persons).
  • Planned periodic and random tests to check the health status of employees.
  • The employer usually pays for these screening tests.

Background checks and Employee Drug Testing involve the investigation and verification of the person's records. These checks include national police checks, and they ensure that a person has no criminal background. Criminal history checks are different to an employee drug screening test. The police checks are a collection of data related to criminal history from all jurisdictions of the country for that person and data is disclosed in accordance with spent convictions legislation.

Source: easier.com

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