As a whole, Australia isn’t restricted by drug testing laws as they are in the United States. However, there is legislation that makes it compulsory for some sites, such as those contractors who are covered by the Building Code. As a result, many safety critical industries have set up their own policies and procedures. Those industries include aviation, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and transportation.
When drug testing in the workplace began here back in the late 1980s, the urine test was the most widely use. Today, many employers have changed over to saliva drug testing instead due to the fact that it’s possible to cheat on the urine drug test. Advances in drug testing technology may have employers switching over to yet another method of testing. Fingerprint drug testing is impossible to cheat as well and has other advantages besides.
Let’s take a look.
Advantages of fingerprint drug testing
The fingerprint drug test is completely non-invasive and has a 99% accuracy rate according to researchers. The person reporting for testing merely presses their finger on the reader and it’s scanned into the system. Within minutes, the result appears on the screen. Positive or negative results are unmistakeable because they’re determined in the moment by the person’s own sweat secreted from their fingerat the time of the test is what determines the outcome.
The test is obviously efficient and there are virtually no specimens to collect. Imagine what an advantage it would be to do all your pre-employment drug testing on site by merely having your applicants press their finger on a screen and knowing whether or not they’ll be joining your team in seconds. Imagining can become a reality because this test is portable—the reader is not much larger than the human hand.
It’s also good to point out in this post pandemic world that the test is clearly hygienic as well. Lastly, the test is cost-effective. The expense is likened to that of the saliva test.
How does it work exactly?
The human body metabolizes everything that we ingest. After undergoing the process, it’s turned into metabolites. These metabolites distribute themselves throughout the body and wait to be excreted in various ways, one of them being body sweat. The body is continually sweating even when we aren’t aware of it. Bits of sweat on the fingertip provide the metabolites needed to determine if there are drugs in the body. The process takes about 5 seconds to complete.
The fingerprint test is available from Intelligent Fingerprinting, a company based in Cambridge, England. This portable drug screening system looks for multiple drug groups at once. It features a single-use tamper-evident drug screening cartridge.
What drugs are detected?
The types of drugs that can be detected at this time are amphetamines, cannabis, opioids, and cocaine. As the technology evolves, other drugs will be added to that list. The amount of time that drugs can be detected using thisdrug testing method varies depending on a number of factors.
- Mode of intake
- Frequency of use
- Height and weight
- Overall health
- Individual metabolism
Amphetamines and methamphetamine can be detected within two hours of ingestion and remains in the system for approximately a week. Tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, is the component in cannabis that causes impairment. It’s detected nearly immediately and remains detectable in sweat for nearly a week after discontinuing use. Opioids, which include heroin and morphine, can be detected by the test within two hours and up to a week following consumption. Lastly, both cocaine and ethyl methyl ecgonine, a major metabolite of cocaine that is formed from smoking the drug, can be detected after two hours and up to two days after ingestion.
It’s important to note that the fingerprint drug test doesn’t detect current impairment. At this time, the only drug test with that ability is the blood test. They’re considered to be the most invasive drug test and are also very costly. Most employers choose to reserve testing the blood for drugs for post accident situations. Having the knowledge as to whether or not someone was impaired by drug use at the time of an accident can help determine responsibility.
We drug test for safety’s sake
While drug testing is usually seen as an intrusion of privacy, employers choose to test employees for drugs in order to keep the workplace as safe as possible. Noone deserves to go off to work in the morning only to wind up in the hospital before the day is out due to someone’s negligence. If the negligence was instigated due to drug impairment, it’s even a worse case scenario.
Drug testing enables employers to weed out the drug abusers in their company. It can also prevent them from hiring someone who has a drug problem. Actually, most people won’t even bother to apply for a spot in the company if they abuse drugs and know they will be asked to take a drug test.
If you are considering employee drug testing in your place of business, first and foremost, establish policies and procedures outlining the entire process. Doing so can protect your company from litigation should a disgruntled employee choose to dispute what they deem to be an unfair dismissal.
Some justifiable reasons giving you, as an employer, the right to drug test are:
- Improvement of workplace productivity
- Health concerns
- Workplace safety
- Maintaining employee integrity
Should an employee test positive for drugs, many Australian companies begin the process with counseling which is then followed up with another test. If the employee consistently tests positive, then they are dismissed. If that becomes the case, remember that a kind word of concern can go a long way. In fact, it may be the catalyst that causes the employee to have a change of heart about the way they have been choosing to live.
And, ultimately, that may save their life.