Reports have surfaced of British workers buying human urine to substitute for their own during workplace drug tests, but it is unclear whether similar practices are also happening in Australia.
Sydney radio station WSFM reported that there have been a number of instances of people buying urine from neighbours, friends and even strangers, specifically to avoid detection during authorised drug tests at work.
The station suggested that prosthetic genitals have even been used, hooked up to catheter bags, in order to simulate natural urine flows during the tests.
The UK’s workplace safety body, Health and Safety Executive, subsequently told said it is aware of the reports “but cannot comment on either its accuracy or the number of cases”.
A spokesperson for the agency said that in the UK, “there are no health and safety regulations specifically dealing with screening for drug use in the workplace”.
Safe Work Australia, which overseas the formulation of workplace health and safety policy, told My Business that it does not hold information of whether such practices occur in Australia.
However, it did acknowledge the role that drugs and alcohol can play in increasing the risk of workplace accidents.
“Safe Work Australia is aware that drugs and alcohol can be an issue for workplaces, and understand that there would be cases where workers may have been injured or died at work and were found to have been affected by drugs/alcohol,” a spokesperson said.
“Alcohol and drugs – including medicines prescribed by a doctor or available from a pharmacy – can affect a person’s ability to work safely. This can lead to workplace accidents that can result in death or injury, adverse physical and mental health effects for workers, and absenteeism and lost productivity for employers.
“Under the model Work Health and Safety laws all workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and ensure they don’t adversely affect that of others. This means they must be fit and well enough to do their job, not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or use alcohol or illegal drugs while at work.”
The spokesperson noted that in particular industries, Australian workplaces will have specific policies requiring drug and alcohol testing in a bid to meet their workplace safety obligations.
“Some workplaces have explicit policies to test their workers for alcohol and illicit substances, particularly where a worker could kill or seriously injure themselves, another worker or a member of the public,” they said.
“In some jobs such as road and rail transport, maritime and mining occupations, the laws specific to those activities/occupations/industries set down a legal blood alcohol level and may prohibit a worker from being affected by any drugs – legal or illegal.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.