Why should a workplace have a D&A policy?

A well-researched and clearly documented policy is an important part of any workplace Drug and Alcohol programme.

A good Drug and Alcohol policy will:

• Demonstrate that the employer is committed to workplace safety, particularly where issues involving drugs and/or alcohol are concerned
• Include a Drug and Alcohol education programme
• Describe the circumstances under which Drug and Alcohol testing may be done
• Describe the processes to be followed should Drug and Alcohol testing be required
• Describe how drug and alcohol testing results will be managed
• Define the obligations and responsibilities of all parties covered by the Drug & Alcohol Policy
• Offer employees access to an Employee Assistance Program

What does NATA accreditation as a collection agency mean for a client?

NATA accreditation provides assurance to the client that the collection agency:

• Uses appropriately trained staff to collect and / or test samples
• Uses testing devices which have been verified by Australian laboratories to perform according to the stated claims of the manufacturer
• Performs internal Quality Control testing as required by the relevant Standards
• Participates in external Quality Assurance Programs (QAP) where the collection agency must test samples containing unknown levels of drugs and return their test results for assessment by the QAP
• Has a program of internal audits and reviews to ensure the agency continually assesses its own performance.

Are Drug and Alcohol testing results legally defensible?

Should a workplace drug test result be challenged, the result has a better chance of being legally robust if the sample has been collected and analysed by an appropriately accredited facility. If a facility is NATA accredited, all test methods and procedures have been documented, validated and reviewed by an internationally recognised assessment body.

What types of Drug and Alcohol testing are available?

Testing in the workplace usually involves:

• A breathalyser test for alcohol (we only use breathalysers certified to AS 3547: 1997)
• A urine test or an oral fluid test

If the urine or oral fluid is tested by the collector at the time of collection i.e. an on-site test is performed, and the result is Negative, the final result of the test may be reported by the collector.

If the result of the on-site test indicates the sample requires further testing, the sample will be securely sealed and packaged, and sent to an accredited laboratory for confirmatory testing.

Does a positive result on a drug screen mean that a worker is impaired?

The cut-off levels for the different drug groups in the Australian Standards (Urine AS4308: 2008, Oral Fluid AS4760: 2006) indicate a particular class of drug has been detected. It is not appropriate to relate the presence of drugs in urine or oral fluid to a level of impairment.

Is it possible to get ‘False’ Positive and ‘False’ Negative results?

A ‘false’ negative result would mean that a testing device had not picked up a particular drug that was in the specimen at a level above the specified cut-off. This is a situation that can arise where the drug levels in the sample are very close to the cut-off levels of the device being used for testing. The devices used by ToxLogic require a visible line to develop on the device test panel for the sample to be reported as ‘Not Detected’ for the particular drug groups. If this line does not develop at all, or the collector is in doubt as to the presence of a distinct line, the sample will be reported as ‘requires further testing’ and sent to the accredited laboratory for analysis.

A ‘false’ positive result would mean that a testing device had picked up a particular drug group in the sample at a level above the specified cut-off and later confirmatory testing had reported the result for that drug group as ‘Not Detected’. This is most likely to happen with some drug groups e.g. opiates, where a number of substances of similar chemical structure will be recognised by the screening device as belonging to the target drug group. In these cases, the sample would be reported by the collector as ‘requires further testing’ and sent to the accredited laboratory for confirmatory testing.

Once the laboratory testing was completed, the final report will indicate which of the different substances was detected at levels above the confirmatory cut-off level. It is possible that none of the different substances will be present at levels above the cut-off level and the final report will be ‘Not detected’. This means that, while the sample contained similar chemical substances that, when grouped together, were above the cut-off level, none of the individual substances was detected at a level above the confirmatory cut-off level.

How can a client have confidence in the results reported by the collection agency?

ToxLogic is enrolled in QAP for both on-site urine testing and on-site oral fluid testing. These programs involve ToxLogic periodically testing a sample containing unknown levels of drugs. These samples are supplied to all laboratories and collection agencies enrolled in the programme.