Saliva testing or urine drug testing for your WA business


If your Perth or Western Australian business is contemplating introducing drug and alcohol testing as part of a drug and alcohol management plan, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is which testing methods to use. While breath testing is the clearly the best choice for alcohol testing, when it comes to drug testing you can choose between urine testing or saliva testing. So which is the best?

Urine testing v saliva testing

For the person in the street, choosing between saliva testing and urine testing for a WA workplace wouldn’t seem like a big decision. After all, as long as the method you choose can accurately determine who is and who isn’t safe to be at work, what’s the issue? In reality, however, the methods can be quite different and which you choose can make a difference in how well drug testing is accepted in your WA workplace.

For the record, Integrity Sampling will always recommend saliva drug testing over urine drug testing for your Western Australian business. Yes, we do have somewhat of a vested interest, as we were one of the Australian pioneers of using saliva for drug testing in the workplace. However, our recommendation is based on three compelling reasons:

  • Collection of samples for urine testing can be seen as invasive and embarrassing.
  • While rare, urine samples can be tampered with.
  • The window of detection for urine drug testing is wider than for saliva drug testing. On the surface this might seem like an advantage, as it’s possible for someone who has taken drugs to return a positive with urine testing and a negative with saliva testing. However, it’s important to remember that drug testing is about safety and detecting people who are unsafe to be at work, not about detecting people who takes drugs in their own time. Saliva drug testing is seen by experts as a much truer indicator of whether a person is safe and fit to be at work.

So, while urine and saliva testing are both easy and relatively inexpensive to undertake, provide accuracy and dependability, and can deliver results quickly, saliva testing is our preferred method. However, we do conduct urine testing if your WA workplace decides to choose this method.

Many experts agree that saliva drug testing is the best method, including Leanne Cruden, a Senior Lawyer with Ai Group Workplace Lawyers, who “has a particular interest in drug and alcohol management in the workplace”. In a Manufacturers’ Monthly article, Ms Cruden said that, “there is a choice between urine and oral testing for drugs and alcohol, with the urine testing generating the greatest degree of opposition, primarily in relation to privacy concerns.”

Fair Work Australia has also weighed into the discussion about whether to choose urine testing or saliva testing. In a case involving Endeavour Energy, which wanted to use urine testing to drug test its 2600-plus employees. Fair Work Australia found that using urine drug testing was “unjust and unreasonable”.

They made this judgement essentially because saliva drug testing was available and drug testing using urine could detect drug use from days earlier, while saliva testing detected drugs taken in the hours before the test.

NOTE: If you are thinking about implementing workplace drug testing in your Perth or Western Australian business, give Integrity Sampling a call on 1300 SALIVA. Integrity Sampling conducts saliva drug testing in Perth and at 6 additional locations across WA, and cover much of this huge state.

Saliva drug testing versus urine drug testing for your WA workplace? The choice is clear.

Saliva drug testing versus urine drug testing for your WA workplace? The choice is clear.

By Paul Marshall

Paul is the Owner and Director of Integrity Sampling WA, which has technicians that provides drug and alcohol management services, including drug and alcohol testing, in the Perth area and all regional locations within Western Australia. You can connect with Paul Marshall on LinkedIn

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