Work Place Testing FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q – How long does it take to test a sample?

A - Usually when a sample is delivered to the lab, a screening result will be available by the end of the day. If the sample requires confirmation, that will be carried out the same night that the sample arrives, with a result available the next day.

Q – Why is there a delay between the screening test and the final result?

A – An onsite screening test is just that, on-site. If the result is non-negative, then the sample must be sent to the laboratory for a confirmation. The travel time may be anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the location of origin. The confirmation then takes a further day to be completed.

Q – How reliable is the testing?

A – Lab based screening is more reliable than on-site screening in that it gives a numerical result, not just a coloured line. Mass spectrometry (GC/MS or LC/MS) is a more advanced kind of testing that provides definitive identification of the drug. GC/MS and LC/MS is used to confirm all drugs detected by lab based screening and on-site devices.

Q – What can interfere with a test?

A – There are compounds which may interfere with screening devices, usually giving a false positive reading. This may be prescribed or OTC medication, or other nutraceuticals. However, all samples identified as positive by lab based or on-site screening devices are then re-tested (confirmed) using mass spectrometry (GC/MS or LC/MS). Mass spectrometry can accurately distinguish between banned substances and legal drugs that have similar properties, providing certainty in the final testing result.

Q – How long will drugs be detectable?

A – In urine most drugs will be gone 3 – 4 days after use with the exception of THC. THC can take weeks or months to be fully excreted depending on the level of cannabis use. In oral fluid testing drugs are detectable from a few hours to 1-2 days, depending on the drug. Drug metabolism does vary in different people, so it is possible that some individuals will metabolise and excrete drugs faster or slower than average.

Q – Why do some companies test oral fluid and some companies test urine?

A  Oral fluid testing shows recent drug use and may be a better indication of drug impairment on the day of employment. Urine shows a history of drug use over the previous week and is a better test to determine long term behaviour patterns. Depending on the testing regime, the two tests provide slightly different answers to the same question.

Q – Does the test show whether a person is impaired by a drug?

A – No. Impairment can vary widely from person to person with many factors, and these tests cannot account for them.

Q - Will urine testing be effected by existing medical conditions?

A No. AS4308 and AS4760 only look for a small group of (mostly illegal) drugs and do not measure your health status. If your doctor has prescribed medication including pain killers or sleeping pills, please inform your employer.

Q – Will my prescribed medications show up on the drug test?

A Prescribed drugs do not cross-react with most screening tests. There can be exceptions depending on the screening test employed, but drug confirmation by mass spectrometry is used to ensure that the testing is accurate. Obviously, the legal medications listed in the testing protocol will be detected.

Q - What if I think the result is wrong?

A – If you think the lab test is wrong, then there usually is a “B” sample available for testing. It is recommended that this sample is sent to a second lab, for an independent result. The cost is usually borne by the donor but sometimes the employer agrees to pay.