Use swab to test miners, not make them take urine tests

THE Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has vowed to challenge mining companies in court if they make their workers take urine tests to detect drugs and alcohol.

Rockhampton AMWU representative Peter Lyon supports that move and philosophy whole-heartedly.

The union said it planned court challenges against mining companies that used urine tests to detect substances such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin in their workers.

In a recent ruling, the Fair Work Commission banned the use of urine tests for the detection of drugs and alcohol for workers at the NSW Government-owned electricity network company Endeavour Energy.

Mr Lyon said urine tests detected drug use from days, and in some cases weeks earlier, rather than more recent use that could result in work impairment.

He said the union preferred swab and saliva testing because the method showed whether or not workers had drugs in their system at that time.

AMWU secretary Steve McCartney said, "We will be taking them all on because we owe it to our membership.

"You can tell Rio Tinto, Woodside and BHP (Billiton) that they can be expecting to hear from us."

A BHP Billiton spokeswoman said under local legislation, the company conducted the screening to minimise the risk of incidents and injuries.


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