Fentanyl — brand names include Durogesic and Actiq — and Oxycodone — brand names include OxyContin and Endone — are prescription-only drugs in Australia.
Both have an effect similar to codeine but are much more powerful and potentially dangerous pain relievers than Codeine. Consequently, they are prescribed much less.
And unlike codeine, routine drug screens such as urine and saliva tests cannot detect Fentanyl and Oxycodone.
These powerful pain relievers have a strong effect on workplace performance. And extremely dangerous when used by someone in safety-specific tasks like driving, flying, and building.
Why might my workplace need to be concerned?
The use of both oxycodone and fentanyl is increasing in Australia.
Police and Customs are detecting both drugs more and more in illegal drug operations across the country.
As we can see from this graph from the United States, the rise of opiates, including fentanyl and oxycodone, has seen an astonishing increase in detection and harm in the country.
As shown by the blue line in the graph, according to the National Institute of Health website.
This has had a dramatic effect on households, workplaces, and the healthcare system. Some politicians and experts in the US refer to it as a “national emergency.”
What about Australia — what’s the risk to workplaces here?
Australia is seeing an increase in fentanyl and oxycodone use and abuse as well. However, it’s nothing like the sort of levels you see in the graph above.
Monitoring of wastewater or sewage is a new tool for examining all the drugs entering our sewage system for large population groups.
The most recent report (HERE) has shown an increase in fentanyl detection in several states and interestingly higher rates of detection in regional areas.
While this wastewater data is for all of the population – not just workplaces – we also see an increase in use in the Safework Laboratory incidence of confirmed positives for these drugs, as well as our own WASTEWATER TESTING SERVICE.
At the end of the day, our workplaces are part of our wider Australian community. And these emerging issues may become more of a feature of drug use in the workplace going forward.
What can Safework Laboratories do to help if I think we might have an issue?
Safework Laboratories has a number of testing options that are useful. If you have information from your employees or concerns about the risks in your workplace, contact us now for a strictly confidential discussion.