Workers dodge positive drugs tests

Industry drug testers have raised concerns that workers are managing their illegal drug intake in a bid to escape getting caught out in tests.

Kerryanne Tawhai, director of Down to Earth results, a company that tests illegal substances in resource industry workers, expressed concern that workers were managing their drug intake to avoid testing positive to drugs, including amphetamines.

The comments come after Queensland Police in Gladstone raided a suspected methamphetamine laboratory in West Gladstone on Friday.

"(It) goes with the territory," she said. 

"You've got large a congregation of people and there's nothing really to do in this town."

She said most people know that these type of drugs left the body in a short-time, enabling users to adjust their usage before they go back to work on mine sites.

"They're out (of the body in) 42-72 hours," Tawhai said.

Tawhai also revealed that some industry tests were failing to pick up on imitation marijuana such as ‘Kronic’.

"There is a possibility that some substances might not be picked up," Tawhai said.

"Some of the testing kits can provide results for up to nine different substances, including alcohol."

The Observer reported a spokesman for industry employer Bechtel said random drug testing was conducted across all construction sites on a daily basis.

"The random testing on Bechtel's construction sites includes an alcohol breath test and a swab test," he said.

A culture of drug abuse in the fly-in-fly-out camps has been in the spotlight of late, with many saying the use of illegal drugs is rife throughout the industry.

One mining worker told ABC News employees used illicit substances in their recreation time, and a wide variety of drugs were on offer.

 “You just see blokes out of their tree, especially when they knock off work,” he said.

“They might have a quick bong or shot of amphetamines, so you have to assume two quick beers don't send you as silly as some of them get.”

Police say strong demand from mining workers has helped Mount Isa become the “synthetic drug capital” of North Queensland.

Northern Region Drug Squad officer in charge Brad Phelps told ABC Radio there had been more synthetic drug seizures in Mt Isa than in any other part of Queensland.

He said the mining industry was partly to blame for the problem, with workers turning to synthetic products to escape workplace tests that initially focused on traditional drugs.

“We have a number of young, male people involved in the mining industry where they are frequently undergoing drug testing, and they also have a fairly large disposable income,” he said.

While synthetic cannabis products popular in the mining industry were banned last year, their availability online and at local stores means workers can still access the drug.

Late last year a new synthetic drug known as Venom was touted as the “next generation of Kronic” after it was released in WA.

Jennifer Bowers operates at the front line of mental health in mining with the Minds in Mines program and told Australian Mining drugs were a problem in the industry.

“People are getting very clever about circumventing drug and alcohol testing,”

“Education and raising awareness of the concequences of drugs and alcohol and what they do to you mentally and physically is the best way to deal with it,”

QLD police have started presenting seminars in mining regions to help address the drug use problem, and said it would be “naïve” to think drug manufacturers weren't targeting miners.


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