How drug testing kits contribute to site safety

Abstaining from drugs helps keep workers alert and alive on site. Drug testing kits are a great way to ensure peace of mind for workers who need to keep a clear head.

All mining companies conduct regular drug tests on their employees.

All mining companies conduct regular drug tests on their employees.

Substance abuse can be a recipe for disaster in any workplace. Not only can this result in production issues associated with poor performance and absenteeism, it introduces significant safety risks.

In addition, the impaired judgement of workers under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not just present safety risks for the person involved, but also other people who work with them.

As such, it is of utmost importance that workers turn up clean and sober to avoid putting themselves or workmates in danger. Drug testing kits are cheaply available for workers to privately test for drugs that might be within their system to ensure that they are fit for work.

“Drugs can affect the body in countless ways,” says Kelly Salter, brand manager at Frostbland, the creator and distributor of drug testing kit, Drug Alert.

“Many of these would particularly be dangerous to somebody on a high-risk workplace; inability to concentrate, short-term memory loss and blurred vision to name a few.”

In addition to making sure workers are personally able to work without consequence, the drug kits provide the added benefit of ensuring workers don’t lose their jobs should they fail a site drug test.

The standards are different depending on the site in question, with some companies taking a zero-tolerance policy on even miniscule traces of any illicit drugs, while others take a more relaxed case-by-case policy to enforcement.

Even though workers may feel fine a day or two after taking drugs, this doesn’t mean that their body is free of the signs. The length of time a drug remains detectable in the system depends on numerous factors, including the type of drug, the dose that has been consumed, individual personal tolerance levels and metabolic rates.

Cannabis traces, for example, can spend a considerably longer period of time in the bloodstream and urine than drugs such as amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine and heroin. Where signs of cocaine use are generally detectable in urine for around three to four days after use and one to two days in blood, signs of cannabis use can be detected anywhere between a week to a month in urine and up to two weeks in blood.

Like alcohol, drugs also produce a hangover effect after use even after leaving the bloodstream, further impairing operational ability. Whether a mine worker is dealing with delicate processes, such as data monitoring or large-scale earthmoving using a 300-tonne-plus haul truck, it is a serious cause for concern.

Drug use is also a contributor to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Studies in Australia by peer-reviewed publications such as the Journal of Health, Safety and Environment have found that mine workers suffer a higher incidence of these afflictions than the general population, particularly among more isolated fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) workers, and workers between 18–33 years old.

“Mandatory drug tests for mine site workers are becoming more and more common due to the dangerous workplace conditions and the need for mine site workers to have absolute clarity and confidence to operate machinery and work long shifts known to miners,” says Salter.

“Apart from losing a contract, there is your own safety to consider which is most important of all seeing as death would be a real consequence for mandatory drug tests, an increasingly common occurrence at mine sites.

“By utilising Drug Alert regularly, mine site workers who take illicit drugs can monitor drugs within their system and hopefully avoid a failed drug test on site and lose their employment.”

A 2017 Mining People International poll found that over 60 per cent of the nearly 800 resources sector respondents surveyed answered in the affirmative when asked if they believed drugs were becoming a bigger issue in Australia’s mining industry.

Drug Alert tests provide a safe environment for users to screen themselves without judgement. The kits are available for both urine and saliva test formats and use the same technology as that found in professional screening laboratories, without the need to send them away to obtain results. The innovative technology is non-invasive, can detect up to 12 illicit and prescription drugs, is easy to use and CE approved.

The Drug Alert range includes tests for marijuana, street drugs and an advanced street drugs and prescription drugs test also. All drug test kits provide results within minutes and are available from many locations across Australia and New Zealand, such as Priceline and Chemist Warehouse.

“Frostbland has developed Drug Alert to fulfil a real need in Australia and New Zealand to provide drug test kits of the highest standard that were available from the convenience of local pharmacies and drug stores,” she says.

“Drug driving is targeted by the police just as much as drink driving is due to the number of Australians now regularly taking illicit drugs, and many workplaces are following suit and Drug Alert has been instrumental in providing Australians the opportunity to manage employment and maintain safety.”