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Do It Yourself Drug Testing Not the Answer Warns Expert

Do It Yourself Drug Testing Not the Answer Warns Expert

Auckland, 24 October 2014: Companies trying to save money by conducting their own staff drug testing is highlighting bad practices and does not address workplace safety, warns New Zealand’s leading drug testing agency.

The Drug Detection Agency (TDDA) CEO Kirk Hardy says, “Workplace drug testing is fraught with pitfalls unless it’s conducted by an independant and accredited drug testing company, by skilled staff.

“The practices we’re seeing and hearing about will result in innocent staff losing jobs or even worse potential drug affected employees not being detected, resulting in workplace accidents causing serious injury or fatalities. We will start to see expensive court cases costing the employers thousands of dollars in damages from poor drug testing practices.”

A comment backed by Max Whitehead, Managing Director of Whitehead Group, which represents employers in employment disputes, and CEO of Small Business Voice. “The damage unlawful drugs are doing to New Zealand is huge - particularly in workplaces.

“What’s worse is when an employer dismisses staff due to a cheap drug test and find out they got it wrong. The judiciary will come down hard on any employer when its proven their drug test was unreliable.”

This very point was highlighted in a recent case in Sydney where an employee lost his job over the result of a saliva test that was conducted internally by HR staff of a company.

“The whole process was flawed from the start. Not only does a positive saliva screen need to be validated by a certified laboratory test before it can be deemed as trully positive, but correct procedures needs to be followed by trained staff,” Kirk says.

“In this case the employee is now looking at suing his employer for wrongful dismissal, which will end up costing the company money. So, what started out as a cheaper do it yourself option looks like it’s turning into a expensive court case, that has also tarnished the company’s brand and reputation.”

Furthermore TDDA staff drug tested a sample of the employee’s hair and it tested negative. “Hair and urine tests are far more accurate than a instant saliva test kit,” he says.

Kirk adds that some employers seem to view do it yourself drug testing as a way to easily get rid of staff. “It doesn’t quite work like that. Drug use in the workplace is a serious issue and must be treated as a serious issue with correct procedure followed, employers just can’t afford to get it wrong, there are people’s lives and livlihoods at stake.

“There are cheap saliva and urine testing kits available but the test results aren’t legally valid for a number of reasons, including the way the test is conducted and by whom, as well as the actual validity of the test results. There are strict industry standards that must be adhereed to.

“The initial drug test results certainly aren’t enough reason to dismiss a staff member and won’t legally stand up if challenged in court,” he says.

“Instant Saliva tests are more often than not unreliable causing false positives and negative results, which is why it’s imperative that testing is done properly and any test result is verified by a laboratory.”

Kirk is calling for the New Zealand Government to regulate workplace drug testing. “Drug testing must be conducted by certified experts and there needs to be legislation in place to ensure this. At the moment there isn’t, it’s a self regulated industry and self regulation clearly isn’t working.

“One of my main concerns is that employees are being wrongfully dismissed over invalid drug test results and general practices, and in the end it will cost companies a lot of money in the courts. Let’s keep things in perspective, drug and alcohol testing in there for workplace safety, that is paramount and that’s what we’re working towards, creating drug free environments.”

TDDA is New Zealand's only national fully AS/NZS4308:2008 IANZ-accredited on-site drug and alcohol testing provider. TDDA is considered to be a leader in its field with 30 plus offices throughout Australasia.


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