What to expect in a workplace drug test

I feel that there is a huge stigma around workplace drug testing and the first time a worker comes to me, they are nervous and perhaps hypervigilant or paranoid.

It should be understood by everyone;

  • Testing officers are not police or workplace inspectors, we are only interested in whether you are positive or not. You will not be taken to court by one of us.

  • Hundreds of thousands of Australians are tested every year and the majority come up negative.

Setting up the drug testing room.

Whether overt or covert, we usually arrive before any of the workers. My workdays start between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., this is so that all paperwork and the testing room is prepared by the time work starts.

What to bring

  • Photo ID (i.e. passport or Drivers licence)

  • Medication in it's box/bottle (if applicable)

The 'queue'

Usually I have a line of people to the door of the testing room. This is not a courtroom or police station, you can talk and should not view this as any different than dealing with a GP. Talk in the waiting area by all means, but respect the privacy of whoever is in the room and keep it down so that I can work quickly.

The paperwork

Sadly, paperwork is a big part of testing.

The declaration will be read aloud to you, there will be two parts for you to sign. It is important not to get hung up in the titles.

Donor - you; the person 'donating' the specimen.

Collector - me; the testing officer collecting the specimen

Requesting authority - your workplace.

The interview

The testing officer should introduce themselves (i.e. My name is Daniel from NRDAT, I am here to conduct a test for alcohol by analysing a sample of your breath and test your oral fluid for the presence of drugs.)

I would ask for your photo ID, compare it to you and provided I believed the ID was yours, the test would begin. I would read the declaration aloud (you can read along if you wish) and you will sign the declaration. I will then ask if you have used any medications, drugs or medicines (traditional or not). I only offer one chance to admit to this, once the test begins I do not allow people to change their minds.

The test

I would then take your oral fluid and allow the test to run. The test will take around 5 minutes to run, while it runs I will conduct a breath alcohol check using a breathalyser.

If negative for drugs

That is the end of the test, you are given a copy of your paperwork and I ask you to send the next worker in as you leave.

If not-negative for drugs

A further oral fluid sample will be obtained in the jars provided by the laboratory and an A4 laboratory form must be completed by the donor and collector. You will also need to initial some security seals on the specimen jars. At this point you will receive a copy of the consent/chain of custody form and the laboratory results will be provided to your employer. You can request laboratory results from us or your employer.

What if you are unhappy with laboratory results?

You can appeal the results through another NATA accredited laboratory. This is a complicated legal and scientific process so you may need the advice of a solicitor. We provide 2 samples to the lab. 1 to be tested and 1 to be held for appeals.

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