According to Medvet Laboratories up to 30 per cent of Australians working in safety sensitive job roles are using synthetic cannabinoids undetected. The herbal and chemical product is often referred to as legal weed, kronic, Spice, K2 and Kaos.1.
The drug and alcohol screening programs supplier, says that risk of death and serious injury in the workplace, due to ambiguous drug testing policies, is increasing. Synthetic cannabinoids do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, so use of the drugs will not be detected by more standard drug tests.
Unlike on site urine and oral fluid drug testing, laboratory drug testing is capable of detecting synthetic cannabinoids. There are limitations to the laboratory testing though; results can only be provided if the organisation’s drug testing policy stipulates the specific substance, required detection levels and method of testing.
Mr Steve Korkoneas, National Operations and Technical Manager at Medvet Laboratories, said that mining, manufacturing, transport and construction organisations needed to ensure their drug testing policies proactively addressed synthetic cannabinoids.
The synthetic drugs are banned in 16 countires, including Australia and can be up to 100 times as strong as real cannabis, potentially causing:
- a decrease in alertness and reaction time,
- loss of balance and coordination,
- changes in sensory perception,
- short-term memory loss,
- feelings of euphoria,
- hallucinations and psychosis.
With an average of 10 per cent of miners using synthetic cannabinoids in Western Australia and an estimated 20-25% of all workplace injuries being casued by drug and alcohol use Medvet advises that it is essential for organisations to vigilantly monitor the introduction of drugs and create drug testing policies that can be quickly adapted to new products as soon as they became available.
Mr Korkoneas advises that in order to implement an effective drug and alcohol testing policy a committee should be established to oversee policy development by identifying the organisation’s aims and objectives.
The drugs testing policy should be evaluated and updated regularly to accurately state who can be tested, prohibited substances, required detection levels and testing methodologies as well as stipulating what constitutes an infringement.
Medvet Laboratories can help businesses with every aspect of their workplace drug and alcohol testing programs including:
- policy development,
- employee education and training,
- sample collection,
- result analysis, and