So-called ‘detox’ products found online.
So-called ‘detox’ products found online.

URINE TROUBLE

MINERS are going to extreme lengths to disguise their party lifestyle habits when the time comes to test their sobriety at the work gate.

A raft of fake urine, chemical mixtures, special mouthwashes and even prosthetic penises are all readily available for the worker who wishes to mask the residual toxins in their body.

In line with the increase in mining activity has been an increase in quick-fix detox products available to anyone with a computer, the internet and a postal address.

Local companies such as Aussie Detox offer a range of products via their website that mask the results of either a urine, saliva or hair test. Consumers can get products fast-tracked to their address in the name of "privacy", the website claims.

While no Australian companies currently produce or sell prosthetic penises, which hold fake or clean urine until squeezed, they are available via offshore websites for the more daring test-cheaters.

Some groups say the need for many of the products may have evaporated with the Federal Government's new Harmonised Occupational Health and Safety Laws, introduced in Queensland on January 1.

Under new national mining regulations, companies require a majority consent from their workforce before being able to conduct anything but a saliva test, a move largely backed by unions.

Yesterday, the Queensland Resources Council said it would resist the majority support clause, labelling it an "emerging threat" to the integrity of the state's workplace safety regime.

"The reported push by the coal mining union to have saliva-based drug testing substitute for urine sampling is a disappointing response to a core industry issue," QRC chief executive Michael Roche said.

"The QRC will lend whatever support necessary to mine senior site executives in their efforts to ensure that the industry's safety record is not compromised by second-best drug testing techniques."

Workers' unions have a different take on the situation, believing the reason for OHS drug testing is to test immediate impairment of a worker, not drug use from weeks beforehand.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national general secretary Andrew Vickers said saliva testing was a more reliable indicator of impairment.

"Many chemicals can remain in the blood a lot longer than they are impaired, and urine tests often pick that up… Drug testing is not about making a moral judgment," he said.

Like the QRC, the Australian Mines and Metals Association rejected this view.

"AMMA has commissioned expert pharmacological research that shows saliva testing is far inferior to urine testing... undermining an employer's capacity for detection in order to best manage their duties under OHS laws," AMMA workplace policy director Geoff Bull said.

Mr Vickers denied AMMA's claim that saliva testing results were easier to mask.

Under the new harmonised OHS laws, it will be near impossible to get anything but a saliva test on a Queensland mining site without union support.


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