Far out Friday: Miners using synthetics to fool drug tests

Employees are adopting novel ways to pass workplace drug tests but one official worries the law won’t help employers take action.

Far out Friday: Miners using synthetics to fool drug tests
Police have said that fake urine and prosthetic penises are being used by Queensland miners in an attempt to beat company drug tests.

According to ABC News, sales are booming for the products – which are legally and readily available for purchase online.

Some products can be purchased for as little as $70, and can are designed to be used even during supervised testing.

Tony Graham of the Australian Workplace Drug Testing Services runs seminars to help industry bosses beat the cheats.

Graham reportedly claims that his seminars have now become so popular that he has had to increase them from running once annually to 20 times a year around the state.

“In the mining industry they're particularly well paid, they're in high-stress jobs, working long hours away from family, the more fly in, fly out, the more your problems tend to be, and so people turn to other substances,” he told the ABC.

“[Fake urine is] basically chemical, but they make sure it has got the right pH balance, the right colour, the right specific gravity to look like urine.

“It certainly looks like it. In the good old days we could do a test on it and determine there was no creatinine in it.”

“These days they've got synthetic creatinine as well that they put into the synthetic urine so it's become much harder to actually pick up on the fact it's synthetic.”

He suggested that education was the best for of prevention.
“Spend less on the actual testing, spend more on educating the people this is not a good way to go, this is the sort of testing we can do that will pick it up, if you get picked up cheating you will almost certainly lose your $150,000 a year job,” he said.

Superintendent Jim Keogh of the Gold Coast police force said that the market for such products was booming, but there was no legislation in place to prevent workers from obtaining them.

“In reality, all they're doing is making a chemical compound in liquid form and selling it, they're not indicating what the purpose of the purchase is, at the time of selling it it's certainly not a dangerous drug,” he said.

“So we're quite restricted in that area, albeit sitting behind the scenes here is sinister unlawful intent to test clean going onto a work site where you could compromise the safety of your fellow workmates.

“We've seen the results of ice and the medical fallout from using the drug, so when it's going into an environment such as the mines which are quite complex, risky and certainly at the upper of high risk activities, it's a worry.”

Keogh added that while Australian privacy standards mean testing must occur in isolation, there should be stricter rules in place at mining sites.

“They could get a medical practitioner to supervise the person who is producing the sample, and that would certainly alleviate the possibility of using a false sample,” he suggested.

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