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More Affordable Hair Test For Pre-Employment Drug Testing

News Release – New Zealand Drug Detection Agency 30 March 2012

More Affordable Hair Test For Pre-Employment Drug Testing Now Available

The hair test used for pre-employment drug testing is now much more affordable for business, says the New Zealand Drug Detection Agency’s chief executive Kirk Hardy.

Mr Hardy says, “We’ve been able to reduce the hair test price to $250 + GST per test, with a turnaround of four to five days for results. This is a significant reduction from $650 and a five to six week wait for the results as was previously the case. NZDDA has just secured an arrangement with a large overseas laboratory that specialises in hair testing. Being able to use this laboratory now makes the hair test very affordable, accurate and timely for New Zealand businesses that are keen to carry out pre-employment drug screening.”

Hair testing is the most accurate and effective method of detecting drug use. Testing hair provides evidential results which give a history of drug and/or alcohol use over the previous 90 days. With urine tests most drugs are undetectable if urinalysis is carried out more than three days after use.

Drugs that can be detected in a standard hair test are cocaine, cannabis, opiates (codeine, morphine and 6-monoacteyl morphine) and methamphetamine (meth/amphetamine and ecstasy).

NZDDA is New Zealand’s only fully-compliant ISO-accredited AS/NZS 4308:2008 on-site testing provider and is considered to be a leader in its field. It supplies specialised services for companies that conduct on-site workplace drug and alcohol testing, as well as pre-employment drug testing.

“We’ve noticed a marked increase in the last 12 months in white collar businesses enquiring about pre-employment hair testing because it can detect a far greater drug history than a urine test. This type of test is ideally suited for the executive sector where decision-making can have significant consequences for businesses or people’s investments. The reduction in cost, faster turnaround for results and increased timeliness of hair testing makes this a no-brainer for employers – it’s quicker, more affordable and easier than before,” says Mr Hardy.

Testers use a small sample of hair, cut at the scalp; the most recent 45mm of hair are tested. With hair growing at around 15mm/month, taking 45mm of hair allows drugs to be detected up to 90 days after use.

Background screening company Employrite Group’s managing director David Birchall says, “Taking prescription and illegal drugs can impair an employee’s decision-making process and significant mistakes can be made going up, on the high or coming back down. An employee isn’t operating at full capacity and employers need to know their decision-makers are not taking drugs of any kind. Imagine being in the banking industry and not knowing your future employee was a recreational drug user? ”

Andrew Schirnack, partner of employment law specialist firm LangtonHudsonButcher says, “Anecdotally at least, we’ve seen pre-employment drug testing increasing for businesses (both white and blue collar) that want the peace of mind that their employees are drug free if they’re going to be required to make significant decisions such as spending other people’s money, or undertake safety sensitive duties in their roles.”

Mr Hardy says, “Pre-employment hair testing is important for businesses. It detects recent and medium-term drug use and every employer wants to ensure they have clean decision-makers. With more affordable and quick turnaround testing why wouldn’t an employer use it in its pre-employment screening?”

Background: New Zealand Drug Detection Agency (NZDDA)

• NZDDA supplies specialised services for companies that conduct on-site workplace drug and alcohol testing. It is the only fully compliant ISO accredited AS/NZS 4308:2008 on-site testing provider in New Zealand and is considered to be the leader in its field.
• NZDDA staff are experts in the drug and alcohol testing industry, and include former NZ police officers with significant experience in drug investigation. NZDDA has specialist on-site testing vehicles and are New Zealand’s only accredited on-site drug testing company.
• Established in 2005, NZDDA is a New Zealand-owned and operated company; there are 18 branches throughout the country.


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