Workplace drug testing in Western Australia not all plain sailing

Drug testing in Western Australia is making news, but we don’t think all reports are entirely accurate. Credit Chris Fithall

There’s been quite a bit of media attention in Western Australia recently about workplace drug testing, which from our perspective needs some clarification.

The media attention revolves around changes to the Work Health and Safety Act that were passed last year. The changes included requirements for safety-focused Western Australian businesses to undertake drug testing to meet their workplace safety requirements. This has led to some businesses saying they’re having trouble finding workers.

In a recent ABC News article, Steve McKenny from Everett Butchers in Kalgoorlie WA says he had been searching for a qualified tradesperson for more than a year. He believes the problem was made worse by his business’ need to conduct mandatory drug testing. Another business owner, Ethan Sylvester from Paul’s Pet Foods in Albany WA, said applications had dropped by “about 30 per cent” since taking up the policy. He added that when he advised his 12 staff that the business would start drug testing, four revealed they use cannabis recreationally.

The article also quotes two workers who claim that in order to keep their jobs, they have given up using cannabis. According to the article, “Because cannabis remains testable for days or weeks after wearing-off, both had decided to stop using it in order to keep their jobs.”

Saliva drug testing for your Western Australian business

So, what aspects need clarification?

Primarily, it’s about the notion that drug testing can show drug use from several days or weeks. Yes, it is true that cannabis and other drugs can remain detectable for days and potential weeks, but only if urine drug testing is used. Using saliva or oral fluid testing, on the other hand, drugs are detectable for a shorter window of time. That’s why it’s considered a significantly better determinator of whether or not a person is under the influence.

The reason? Without getting too technical, saliva tests measure what is known as the parent compound or the psychoactive element of the drug. Urine tests only measure by-product drug compounds.

It’s one of the reasons why we recommend saliva drug testing for all our clients. Oral fluid drug testing in Western Australia is also a popular choice for employers and employees because it’s the least invasive type of testing method. It also doesn’t require restroom facilities and can be completed virtually anywhere, pretty handy in the remote areas of WA.

Drug testing in Western Australia can protect businesses

While part of the article does need clarification, much of it has some excellent messages for workplaces, whether it be in WA or anywhere else in Australia. That is:

  • Part of the reason that more Western Australian businesses are starting to implement workplace drug testing, is to protect themselves.
  • This is because, if a worker has an accident while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the consequences can be significant.
  • Depending on the circumstances – including whether the business has a drug and alcohol policy and conducts workplace drug testing – fines are likely and in some cases directors of a business can face a jail term.

Integrity Sampling can help

Integrity Sampling can help with all your workplace drug and alcohol testing needs in Western Australia. We use and recommend saliva drug testing, although we can conduct urine drug testing if you prefer.

For more information, contact Integrity Sampling on 1300 725 482.


Drug testing in Western Australia is making news, but we don’t think all reports are entirely accurate. Credit Chris Fithall

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

Leave a comment