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Hair Drug Test NZ and other Testing Methods

05 April, 2022

Companies use several methods to test the workplace for drug and alcohol use. Workplace testing is necessary to manage safety risks, especially in safety-critical industries. When employees are impaired, they can harm themselves and others at work. Substance impairments in New Zealand workplaces can cause property damage and low output. Thus, a prevention program is vital in minimising drug and alcohol use hazards. Nowadays, more companies are adopting drug and alcohol testing to reduce accidents and injuries. A hair drug test in NZ workplaces is one of the methods used by employers. Likewise, a breath test through a breathalyser can detect alcohol use. Many companies use the workplace breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand, as a reliable breath alcohol screening tool. 

How Hair Drug Test Works

Hair drug testing is the process of taking a hair sample to screen for the presence of illicit substances. For example, employers who want to check if an employee takes recreational drugs can use a hair follicle test. The employer may request a certified laboratory to perform a hair drug test in NZ workplaces. So how does a hair test work? When a person takes drugs, the body absorbs and breaks them down into metabolites. Drugs or their metabolites then enter the bloodstream. Next, they make their way to different body parts from the bloodstream, including the hair. Thus, they enter the hair through the hair follicles and oil glands on the scalp.

A hair drug test in NZ workplaces is an accurate and reliable method for drug testing. This is because the metabolites that enter the hair can remain there as the hair grows. In effect, a hair follicle test has a long detection period and can trace drug exposure for up to 90 days. Additionally, it takes 7 to 10 days for the drugs to embed in the hair shafts. Consequently, a hair test result may be negative if a person takes drugs a few days before the test. Moreover, hair drug testing uses the first inch and a half of growth from the base and approximately 120 strands. Alternatively, other body parts’ hair can be used if the hair on the scalp is not available. 

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Advantages of Hair Drug Test in NZ

Many employers opt for hair drug testing during pre-employment to determine substance use history. Unlike a urine or mouth swab test, the longer detection window of the hair makes it hard to circumvent the results. For instance, a job applicant can stop taking drugs or alcohol a few days before the urine or mouth swab test and have negative results. Undoubtedly, an accurate hair drug test in NZ workplaces can help employers keep their workplaces drug and alcohol-free. Furthermore, hair drug testing offers the following advantages:

  • Hair samples can’t be switched or diluted – The testing agency collects the hair sample from the right person.
  • Long detection window – Drug metabolites stay in the hair for 7 to 90 days.
  • Simple collection method – Easy to collect, store, and transport. The sample is collected from an inconspicuous part of the head, like at the back, and around 120 strands. 
  • Can use body hair if head hair is unavailable.
  • Legal hair drug test results are valid and admissible in court. 
  • Accurate results – More accurate than a urine test
  • Less invasive

Hair Drug Test in NZ: Accuracy

The hair follicle test is a highly effective and accurate drug testing method. Additionally, a hair drug test in NZ workplaces is suitable for determining long-term substance abuse. The longer detection timeframe of hair tests makes it hard to cheat the results. Moreover, the collection process requires taking the sample directly from the head and not from a comb or other sources. The collection and evaluation of hair samples follow a standard rule to ensure validity. Furthermore, laboratories perform a two-step process to avoid false positives. The first test is called ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay). It can deliver positive or negative results within 24 hours. All positive tests  will undergo a second test called the GC/MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry). Furthermore, the GC/MS test can accurately detect drugs and guard against false-positive results caused by foods like poppy seeds.

The hair drug test in NZ workplaces can detect the most commonly used drugs. Additionally, washing the hair with shampoo will not affect the test results. The employer may also ask for more drug types to cover more substances. Typically, hair drug testing screens for:

  • Cocaine 
  • Opioids
  • Amphetamines 
  • Marijuana 
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

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Drug Test: Other Methods

A hair drug test in NZ workplaces can also help employers make hiring decisions. It can also identify employees with substance use disorders and refer them for treatment and rehabilitation. However, it is important to note that air follicle tests cost more than a urine or saliva test and also have a turnaround time of 3 to 5 days. On the other hand, other test methods can efficiently screen drugs and alcohol in the workplace more quickly. The most common procedures are urine, saliva, and breath tests. However, urine and saliva tests can only detect recent drug use. The following are different methods and their corresponding timeframes are: 

  • Breath (ethanol): 12-24 hours
  • Blood: Up to 6 hours
  • Urine: 12-24 hours; 72 hours for advanced tests
  • Saliva: 12-24 hours
  • Nails – Up to 90 days

Breath Test for Alcohol

Breath tests through a breathalyser are the most cost-efficient way to screen for alcohol and monitor workers’ alcohol levels. A breathalyser is a portable device that captures the sample breath and processes it through the sensors. Likewise, breathalysers can detect alcohol for 12 to 24 hours in the system from the last consumption. It is a non-invasive way to determine alcohol intoxication. Moreover, the workplace breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand utilises fuel cell sensor technology to measure the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) accurately. When a person consumes alcohol, it affects the body’s normal functions. Furthermore, having high-level BAC readings can severely impair vision, hearing, speech, reaction time, reasoning, and coordination. It is crucial to prevent employees form having these impairments. A hair drug test in NZ workplaces and other methods can help keep the working environment safe and healthy. 

Drug and Alcohol Test Services in NZ

A testing agency in NZ can provides complete drug and alcohol detection services to individuals and businesses. They follow strict protocols to ensure accurate test results. Moreover, these services would implement a hair drug test in NZ workplaces to help deter substance use or abuse in the workplace. The employer may use breath and urine tests to screen for alcohol and drugs. A follow-up test can confirm the results in the case of positive test results. Additionally, companies can user workplace breathalysers. Conveniently, anybody can administer an alcohol test through a breathalyser. The workplace BACtrack breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand have an efficient one-button operation for easy use. To operate a breathalyser, you only need to provide a breath sample by blowing through the device’s mouthpiece. The BACtrack breathalysers can process the sample breath and deliver the BAC results in 10 to 15 seconds.

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