Spike in WA FIFO worker fake urine cheats

Tom Rabe

A spike in the use of artificial urine to avoid spot drug tests has been recorded across West Australian workplaces, with drug dealers now selling the product as a package with methamphetamine.

Synthetic urine has, on average, been detected once a month throughout Australia, but six positive tests were recorded in WA alone last month by Safework Laboratories.

The company has predominantly noted the "chillingly sophisticated" test-thwarting methods in the Pilbara, the state's iron ore capital, but Safework marketing director and forensic toxicologist Andrew Leibie said positive results had also been recorded in Perth.

"Speaking to some of the clients primarily up in the Pilbara, with a lot of the fly-in-fly-out workforce, the bikie gangs or illegal drug dealers in Hedland and Karratha are actually selling methamphetamine with fake urine as a package deal," Mr Leibie told AAP.

"It was state-wide, across several different industries, through effectively six different locations and probably four different companies."

Cheats in the mining and construction industry are going to the extreme measure of wearing the fake urine on a belt or pouch against their body in order to keep it believably warm and on-hand in case of spot tests.

When a work site is tested for the first time, close to 10 per cent of employees record positive results for drugs, but once a site is consistently tested, the average is 4.7 per cent.

Mr Leibie spoke of the dangers of mine workers arriving on site under the influence of drugs, giving an example of a South Australian underground mine employee who worked around explosives but tested positive for numerous substances.

"He had a breath alcohol limit over .08, he was positive for cocaine, methamphetamine and opiates, and he'd rolled up and was completely off his face, insisting he was fine to go to work."

It is not illegal to sell or buy artificial urine in Australia, but Mr Leibie said companies usually treated detection of the fake urine product as a positive drug test.

"It looks like urine, it acts like urine, in some cases it even smells like urine," Mr Leibie said.