ICE SCOURGE: Drugged up blokes busted at work

EXCLUSIVE: RANDOM workplace drug testing has revealed too many Mackay workers are going to their jobs drugged up on ice and marijuana.

Two workers, aged between 40 and 50, had so much methamphetamine in their system that the urine could have damaged testing equipment.

The results, two of the highest levels of methamphetamine CQ Rescue Health Services has ever detected in urine in 10 years, raise concerns about impairment on the job.

It comes as Mackay Police and Mackay Health and Hospital Service also report elevated drug detection in the region.



From Monday, May 20, new legislation comes into effect, which means any driver who tests positive to a mobile drug test will have their license suspended immediately for three months.
The results, two of the highest levels of methamphetamine CQ Rescue Health Services has ever detected in urine in 10 years, raise concerns about impairment on the job. Supplied

Paget based drug-testing firm CQ Rescue Health Services reported rampant drug use in workplaces across the region and said workers were testing positive to drug use five times more often than two years ago.

Two samples tested during workplace random drug and alcohol screenings returned results more than 930 times over the acceptable limit (150ug/L) for methamphetamine, also known as ice.

CQ Rescue Health Services manager Samantha O'Niell said these results, that were likely due to build-up and regular use of large amounts of the drug, represented a terrifying and gross abuse.

She said it was a huge concern for workplaces

An alarming increase of methamphetamine use is also shown in Mackay Health and Hospital Service statistics where the number of ice-affected people presenting to the hospital has practically doubled in four years.

From July 2018 to April 2019 223 people presented to the hospital under the influence of ice.

Police statistics show one in four drivers tested returning positive drug results.

Mackay Road Policing Unit charged 294 people who returned positive results during road-side saliva tests this year.

CQ Rescue Health Services has also noticed a worrying trend in the increased use of adulterants.

It is a practice where drug users use another person's urine for testing or attempt to dilute their urine to hide drug use.

Ms O'Neill said the service had 19 lab-confirmed positive drug tests during June and were averaging between five and six tampering attempts each month.

The drug methamphetamine is most commonly known as ice these days. Radspunk

Marijuana use in the region is also high with CQ Rescue Health Services recording samples between 40 and 60 times the acceptable limit.

"We are getting five times more positive drug tests than we did just two years ago which is an accurate representation of the serious drug issue in the region," Ms O'Neill said.

Ms O'Neill said the increase in positives tests was an alarming indication people were going to work high and were posing an enormous risk in workplaces.

The Flinders University National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction says ice use in the workplace can impair concentration, the ability to gauge speed as well as distance, judgment and coordination.

A statement from the organisation said driving, operating machinery, or working in safety sensitive situations when affected by ice was not safe.

"While the intoxicating effects of ice generally last around six hours, workplace safety may be compromised for much longer," it said.

"The immediate after-effects of ice use can include drowsiness, and users may find it difficult to sleep for several days following use.

"This can result in increased levels of fatigue, poor concentration, and impaired judgment."

Resource Industry Network health and safety committee chairman Mick Crowe said people affected by drugs working in manual labour, driving vehicles or operating equipment were a risk for businesses.

He recommended a multifaceted approach to prevent drug use, catch drug use and work to help employees overcome it.

"If you look at the data, drug use is prevalent and people impaired by (substances) are much more likely to have accidents," he said.

"You have to show how you are managing that risk (in the workforce).

"We like to say you need to make it easy to do the right thing - in doing that you at least create an environment where the majority do."

As well as this, Mr Crowe said making staff aware of what to look out for, helped keep the workforce accountable for safety.

"Ensuring your workforce is looking out for anyone behaving erratic is a key part of identifying possible risks."