Western Diagnostic Pathology - Occupational Testing Services - FAQs
Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing in Perth
  Frequently Asked Questions    
What will my urine be tested for?

A standard drug screen will be conducted on your urine which includes testing for cannabinoids (cannabis), amphetamines, opiates (heroin), benzodiazepines (sleeping tablets/antidepressants), methadone, barbiturates, alcohol and cocaine. Your urine will also be checked to make sure it is concentrated enough and there are no external adulterants present which may interfere in the testing process.

What do the cutoff levels mean?
Each of the drug classes has an assigned value (cutoff level) which is the level at which a decision is made as to if the sample should be reported as positive or negative, if drugs of that class are detected. These cutoff levels are defined in Australian Standard AS/NZS 4308 and are usually derived from levels which can be reliably detected in a laboratory. Some cutoff levels may take other factors into account such as the cutoff level for cannabis metabolites which makes allowance for passive smoking (ie it is set at such a level so as to ensure that you cannot get a positive result from passive smoking). The drug cutoff levels are:

  • Amphetamines 0.3 ug/mL
  • Barbiturates 0.2 ug/mL
  • Benzodiazepines 0.2 ug/mL
  • Cannabinoids 50 ng/mL
  • Cocaine 0.3 ug/mL
  • Methadone 0.3 ug/mL
  • Opiates 0.3 ug/mL

How long do the drugs remain in the body for?
The length of time each of the drugs stay in the body for varies depending on specific characteristics of the drug itself. As a rough guide the following information can be used:

  • Alcohol 2-14 hours depending on consumption
  • Amphetamines 2 to 4 days
  • Barbiturates long acting – 2 to 3 weeks / short acting – 24 to 72 hours
  • Benzodiazepines up to 4 to 6 weeks
  • Cocaine 2 to 4 days
  • Cannabinoids acute use – 18 hours to 5 days / light user (less than once per day) – up to 15 days /
    heavy user (2-3 times/day for more than 3months) – up to 8 weeks
  • Methadone 3 days
  • Opiates 2 days

Is the specimen checked for adulteration?
If the sample is analysed in a laboratory, all possible interfering substances are checked for. This includes all of the common adulterants (ie bleach) as well as the commercially available adulterants (ie UrineLuck, Whizzies etc). Some adulterants can have their effect removed from the sample to enable the laboratory to continue to test the sample whilst others prevent the sample from being tested. In the latter case, the sample is reported as unsuitable for testing due to adulteration and a repeat sample is suggested.

What if my specimen is diluted?
If you drink more than 2-3 cups of water before having your urine collected, you may provide a sample which is too dilute for testing. This is determined by measuring the level of creatinine in the urine. If the creatinine level is too low, then the sample cannot be tested and must be recollected. If repeated dilute samples are provided (in the absence of prescribed diuretic use or a variety of medical conditions), intentional dilution in order to avoid the test may be considered as a possibility.

Who gets the results of the drug screen?
The results of your drug screen are strictly confidential and will only be released to parties that we have received your permission, in writing, to release them to. Any other party that contacts the laboratory requesting the results, will be requested to submit a request in writing that must be signed by you as well as the other party.

What happens if people are smoking cannabis and I accidentally inhale some?
Passive smoking of cannabis smoke cannot cause a positive result on a drug test except in extreme conditions, which you would have to voluntarily endure.

Do I need to bring anything for the drug screen?
You will need to bring some form of positive identification which has a laminated photo or signature from a recognised organisation (ie drivers licence, passport etc). Credit cards cannot be accepted as proof of identification since they are not laminated.

Will I be watched when giving the specimen?
The only sure way to confirm that the urine in the sample cup came from the subject concerned is for the sample to be directly witnessed. This will always be done with maximum possible regard for the individuals privacy. If the sample is only for the personal knowledge of the subject concerned, a non-witnessed collection can be performed but the report will state that the sample was not witnessed and should not be used for any industrial or legal applications.

How do I know that my specimen will not be tampered with?
The specimen is collected and sealed with tamperproof tape in full view of the subject. From this point on the sample is handled under full chain of custody conditions. All people that have access to the urine sample from this point on are required to sign for the sample and hence each of the people concerned must potentially have to state under oath that they did not tamper with the sample and were responsible for the sample whilst in their possession. The subject is also offered the right to have the sample split at the point of collection. If this option is selected, the sample is split into two sample jars and one jar will remain sealed unless the subject gives written instructions for the second sample to be tested (during which the subject or subject’s representative may be present if necessary).

What if I want independent testing?
If the subject requested that the sample be split into two jars at the point of collection, the second sample is available and can be retested by a different laboratory at the subjects request. If the sample was not split, the original sample jar is stored frozen for 12 months (if it was positive) and can be retested at a different laboratory if required.

Who pays for the drug screen?
This will depend on the reasons for the test. If the test has been requested as part of a pre-employment medical, the potential employer may pay or the subject may have to pay. Please check before your sample is collected, if you are unsure of who is responsible for the cost of the test.

Who do I contact if I have any queries?
Your first point of contact will be the centre that collected your urine sample. If there is any queries that they are unable to help you with they will put you in touch with the laboratory.

What are the benefits to employers of implementing a testing policy and procedure?
Many organisation implement an alcohol and drug policy and testing procedure as part of their duty of care to employees. An employers duty of care includes the requirement to provide a safe workplace. One of the aspects of a workplace that needs to be addressed before a workplace can be called safe is the problem of alcohol and drug impaired employees. Employers need to have a means for identifying alcohol and drug impaired employees and also clear policy guidelines for dealing with the individual concerned. These guideline also need to detail how the individual concerned should be rehabilitated to ensure the employee can return to their job and be fit for work. An alcohol and drug policy when properly implemented can be a very positive condition of employment for all employees since it will give them the confidence that, at least as far as alcohol and drugs is concerned, their work colleagues are fit for work.

How do I know if a prescribed drug is going to show up in my drug test?
If you are in any doubt, you should check with the doctor who prescribed your medication. Only the prescribing doctor can make the assessment of whether you are safe to work in your current job whilst on the medication in question. Your doctor will also be able to find out if the drug will show up in a urine drug test. A urine drug test when properly conducted in a laboratory will be able to differentiate prescription and ‘over the counter’ medications from illicit drugs.

Can I have a blood test instead of a urine test to check for drugs of abuse?
A blood test is not able to be collected for drugs of abuse since laboratory assays for these substances in blood are not available.

Can poppy seeds cause a false positive result?
Some sources of poppy seeds that are available in supermarkets or are sold on bread products do contain some morphine and low concentrations of other opiates. Ingestion of reasonable amounts of these products can cause an initial positive result to opiate class medication. Further confirmatory testing will however be able to identify if heroin abuse has occurred by looking for heroin specific metabolites.

Our team welcomes the opportunity to discuss your pathology testing requirements offering a flexible and comprehensive program of implementation to meet your industry needs.

Tel: (08) 9317 0834
Fax: (08) 9317 0832
Email: support@saferworkplace.com.au



Western Diagnostic Pathology, your partner in a safer workplace.