Welfare Recipient Drug Testing from the Perspective of Workplace Testing.
The Federal Government has proposed to conduct random drug testing on 5000 welfare recipients. While there may be differing views on the introduction of such a scheme, the principles and practices currently used in Australia’s workplace drug testing programs are a suitable model, according to the Workplace Drug Testing Association (WDTA) of Australia – the nation’s peak industry body for workplace drug and alcohol testing.
According to WDTA, random drug tests are a well-established part of the working lives of millions of Australian workers.
The Chair of WDTA, Mr Andrew Leibie, who himself is a qualified scientist specialising in all forms of drug testing, said approximately one million random drug tests are conducted in workplaces across Australia each year.
“As many as 3.5 million employees in industries including mining, transport, construction, defence, aviation, forestry, fishing, agriculture and utilities face random drug tests as part of their everyday employment conditions,” he said.
“These figures do not take into account pre-employment drug testing or the random roadside drug testing conducted by police.”
“These tests are focused on improving safety in workplaces and reducing the risk of drug-related incidents to bystanders in the community.”
“The number of industries conducting random drug testing is also increasing, meaning tests are becoming an increasingly common feature in the Australian workplace.”
“Our experience is invaluable in providing robust, accurate and defensible data to stakeholders.”
“WDTA data shows urine and saliva (oral fluid) testing was the most common forms of workplace testing and were extremely accurate.”
“These tests are conducted to rigorous standards which dictate the kind of drugs to be detected, at what levels and what type of training, equipment and accreditation is required to undertake the tests,” he said.
“Protocols are also in place to address privacy and confidentiality concerns.”
If conducted in conjunction with a certified laboratory, the test results are highly accurate and reliable to an evidential standard in court.
Testing in Australia typically also includes a reference sample (B sample) to allow the result to be independently tested by another certified laboratory in the event on a disputed result.
Successful legal challenges to the drug test result are “unheard of” according to WDTA members.