Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and answers have been selected from verbal & written questions asked through our Alcohol & Drug awareness programs. We have compiled it here to help answer questions you may have. For more information on our expert training sessions, check out our Education and Awareness Program.
Do we really need an Alcohol and other Drugs policy?
In short, yes; it’s actually a vitally important part of the business in many industries today. Your company has a duty of care to anticipate and address any potential threats to health and safety at work. Abusing alcohol or other drugs (AOD) means individuals may endanger their own health and safety, and that of their colleagues.
What happens to people who leak confidential information about people in relation to the Alcohol and other Drugs standard?
All information will be safeguarded according to the requirements for confidential human resource and medical information and will only be provided in situations where the company is required by law to give out information, without the consent of the individual concerned. Any disclosure of confidential information outside of this would contravene the policy and appropriate disciplinary action would be taken.
Is the four weeks of transition time between our education sessions and the start of screening long enough for people to self-test themselves and manage any AOD use?
We have a lot of experience in this field, and in the majority of cases involving a urine sample, four weeks is an appropriate amount of time to get drugs out of your system. It should be noted however, that it can be a shorter period of time for oral fluid screening.
Why don’t we have random screening at the beginning and end of shifts to detect anyone indulging during working hours?
Random screening is an effective way to combat potential AOD issues, and may be conducted at any stage, including during working hours.
Will managers be screened as well as workers?
All staff, contractors and visitors may be screened at any time; this includes managers and office staff.
Do the Field Collection Officers have credentials to allow them to conduct Drug & Alcohol tests?
We’re extremely proud of the highly qualified, friendly and responsive team we’ve built at Safework Laboratories. We draw Field Collection Officers from a variety of appropriate backgrounds, including OH&S officers, ambulance workers, registered nurses and paramedics. All our Senior Field Collection Officers are fully trained and accredited. Please don’t hesitate to ask them any questions about the process.
What happens if there is an accident late in a shift and the person can’t give a sample?
In accordance with the AOD policy, that person would have to stay until they are able to give a sample.
Will the test results be made available to other companies if an employee applies for another position or employment?
We’re very conscious of protecting the sensitive personal data of our clients. We will never pass on your results to any third parties.
Do you have any statistics and information on accidents in the workplace involving drugs?
The best evidence comes from road accidents. The 1997 report of the WA Parliamentary Select Committee on Road Safety reported that, of the 356 drivers, motorcycle and bicycle riders killed in WA in the years 1991/92, 1993/94 and 1994/95, 62 percent had either alcohol or a performance impairing drug in their bodies at the time of death. A breakdown of the data revealed:
- 23% of those killed had alcohol in their system.
- 22% had some other drug with a potential for impairing performance.
- 17% had both alcohol and some other performance-impairing drug in their system.
Cannabis was the predominant ‘other drug’ detected, equating to over 40% of those who had taken drugs and 16% of all drivers and riders killed.
Whilst the report doesn’t draw any conclusions as to what extent this alcohol and drug use was a contributing factor in these accidents, the statistics strongly support the connection between alcohol and drug use and the risk of accidents.
Why aren’t random screenings held every 12 months?
While random screenings are an important tool for implementing AOD policy, this type of screening wouldn’t be truly random, and therefore wouldn’t be as effective.
Do the limits set out during screening apply to the measures of drugs or the impairment level?
The limits set out in our policy are the Australian Standard (Urine AS/NZS 4308:2008, Oral Fluid AS/NZS 4760:2019) limits that indicate a positive detection of that particular class of drug. They do not indicate impairment.
Does AOD screening include blood tests?
We make every effort to ensure our testing procedures cause the minimum discomfort and stress for our clients; blood screening is deemed to be too invasive and uncomfortable to be able to use.
Will the more natural herbal drugs used by naturopaths show up in these tests?
Possibly, if they contain the substances we are screening then they may show up.
Can the company screen samples for other drugs or substances other than those stated?
We screen in accordance with the Australian standard and will only test for the classes of drugs listed plus, when required, a variety of synthetic and designer drugs. Drugs that are used for the management of health issues such as diabetes, blood pressure, and depression cannot be detected by the screening devices used.
Is it legal for the company to force me to give a urine sample?
AOD screening is legal but your consent is required for a sample to be taken and for results to be provided to your employer.
What happens if I refuse to cooperate with the screening?
Most employers will sit down and discuss the issues involved with you. We can also try to address any concerns you may have. If you continue to refuse to cooperate, it’s possible you will not be able to recommence or commence work, depending on your company’s policy.
Will prescription or over-the-counter drugs show up in the screening tests?
Possibly; for instance, codeine can cause a positive result for opiates (the class of drugs that includes heroin). However, results that indicate the presence of a substance are sent to a laboratory for further testing before a positive result is declared. This Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS) analysis is considered the gold standard in forensic toxicology and provides a highly accurate assessment of the sample.