Don’t rely on home drug testing kits

Can you rely on a home drug testing kit purchased online or at a chemist to determine if you are safe to drive or go to work? Credit Steven Miller

If you’re a recreational drug user, can you rely on a drug testing kit you’ve purchased from a chemist or online to tell if you’re okay to drive or go to work?

It’s an interesting question and one we reckon a mine worker from Tasmania wished he had asked before going to work a few years ago. The worker, who conducted explosives handing at the underground mine, had used a urine drug test kit that he had purchased from a pharmacy to determine if he was safe to go to work. The test provided a negative result, leading the worker to believe that he was okay.

He underwent drug testing at work and the result was positive. To make matters worse, his employer had a zero tolerance drug policy, due to the nature of the work. Therefore, the worker was dismissed.

The worker took the case to the Fair Work Commission. He admitted that he had smoked cannabis, but believed he was okay to go to work due to the result of the home drug testing kit. He said that he would never have gone to work if he was not fit or safe to do so.

The worker’s case for unfair dismissal was dismissed. The Fair Work Commission found that because the mine had a zero tolerance policy, it was within its rights to terminate the worker’s employment.

Can you rely on a drug testing kit?

It would seem the answer to this question is no.

In the case quoted above, Fair Work Commissioner Tim Lee said that the Tasmanian employee should never have relied on the home drug testing kit.

“He had no idea what he was doing. He had never done it before. If nothing else, having read the instructions, he was aware that he was returning to work inside the period where metabolites could still be detected, that the test could be defective and importantly that a negative result may not necessarily indicate drug-free urine.”

The belief that you should never rely on home drug testing kits has been backed up by the United States’ Food & Drug Administration or FDA. They say that while most of these kits are sensitive to the presence of drugs, you should always confirm results in a laboratory. Many of the kits supplied in the US provide the ability for the user to send samples to a laboratory. The FDA says this is the most reliable way to confirm the presence of drugs.

No preliminary drug testing is 100% accurate

There’s an important point to make here and that is that no preliminary drug testing is 100 per cent accurate. Whether it’s a $10 kit bought online or a preliminary test completed using hi-tech equipment, laboratory testing is always required to confirm results.

Take Integrity Sampling’s workplace drug testing as an example. We know the hi-tech equipment we use – the Drager DrugTest 5000 – is the best available and is 99 per cent plus accurate. However, we still rely on laboratory testing to confirm results.

It’s the same for all police forces around Australia. While you will generally have your licenced suspended immediately after a positive roadside test, it’s only for a short time for safety reasons. It’s only after a laboratory confirms the positive result that action is taken.


Can you rely on a home drug testing kit purchased online or at a chemist to determine if you are safe to drive or go to work? Credit Steven Miller

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

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