AS/NZS 4308:2008 – Overview
14 September, 2023
AS NZS 4308 2008 is a standard that outlines the procedures for collecting, detecting, and quantifying drugs in urine. It is a joint standard between Australia and New Zealand for drug testing purposes, particularly in the workplace. The need to set established guidelines helps employers to maintain consistency in their drug testing procedures. Therefore, it minimises potential legal issues that may arise due to variations in the testing process or interpretation of results.
Drug and alcohol testing is a common practice, especially in high-risk industries. It helps to eliminate the safety hazards that come from impaired employees. Hence, it prevents serious accidents and injuries. Organisations can administer this measure in various ways. One of the most cost-efficient methods is urine testing. In this article, we will cover the main points of AS/NZS guidelines for urine. It includes the collection and storage procedures, testing methods, and accuracy.
What is AS/NZS 4308:2008
The AS/NZS 4308:2008 is a standard that specifies the requirements for urine-based drug testing. It provides guidelines for the collection of urine specimens, including the use of collection devices, proper handling and storage. It also outlines the procedures for drug screening and confirmatory testing, as well as the interpretation of test results.
The standard is applicable to laboratories, technicians, and other service providers that are responsible for conducting drug tests. One of the key aspects is its focus on ensuring accuracy and reliability in drug testing. It sets out strict requirements for the analytical methods, including the use of validated laboratory techniques and quality control procedures.
Another important aspect is its emphasis on maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of the testing process. It covers protocols for sample collection, including tamper-evident containers. This helps to minimise the risk of contamination and false reports. By providing comprehensive guidelines, this framework helps to ensure the accuracy, fairness, and effectiveness of drug testing programs. Consequently, it contributes to a safer, healthier, and more productive work environment.
- Established standard operating procedures in the collection and handling of urine specimens for workplaces to follow.
- Ensure compliance in various industries, such as mining, transportation, construction, and healthcare.
- Eliminate variations in the testing process.
- Set out the requirements for transporting and testing samples.
- Provides guidance on the training of collectors and laboratory technicians.
- Establishes the criteria for determining what substances are included in drug testing panels and their cut-off levels.
- Set out requirements for documenting and reporting drug test results.
- Ensure the detection of substances in urine meets the expectations in medico-legal and court cases.
AS/NZS 4308:2008 – Specimen Collection and Storage
Under the AS/NZS 4308:2008 standard, there are specific procedures for specimen collection and storage. Firstly, when obtaining urine samples, the collector must wear gloves to prevent contamination. The test provider should provide a clean, sterile container to the donor and instruct them on the proper technique for collecting urine. In addition, the container should be labelled with the donor’s identification details.
Secondly, the storage of specimens must be maintained at set temperatures to preserve the stability of the samples. This helps prevent bacterial growth and degradation of certain substances. This is because environmental conditions may alter the chemical composition of drugs. Thus, the analysis of urine produces the most accurate results and minimises false positives or negatives.
Finally, it includes proper documentation and approved collection devices. The process of collecting the urine specimen must be documented accurately, including the date, time, and witness signature. The standard is appropriate in on-site screening, where it needs to transport the specimens from a remote location to a laboratory.
Handling and Dispatch
The handling and dispatch of urine samples are crucial to ensure reliable and accurate results. The collector or technician must follow a strict chain of custody to maintain the integrity of urine. This includes sealing the collected container with a tamper-evident seal, labelling it correctly, and signing the documentation.
Furthermore, dispatching the sample to the laboratory should be done promptly to minimise the risk of degradation. Proper packaging and transportation methods help protect them from extreme temperatures or light. Exposure to these environmental factors may affect its stability. The collector must also ensure they are not damaged during transit.
AS/NZS 4308:2008 – Testing Methods
Under the AS/NZS 4308:2008, the drug testing methods for urine can be done in two ways. The first is an immunoassay technique for initial screening. Immunoassays are quick and cost-effective tests that can detect the presence of illegal drugs or prescription medications. Drug test kits with AS/NZS certification can provide results within minutes.
Immunoassay tests can detect common drugs of abuse in urine, such as amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. The test can trace drug compounds or their biomarkers, like cocaine and cannabis metabolites, for an extended period. Depending on the classes of drugs, urine can detect substances up to 48 hours from the last intake. The detection time can be longer for chronic users.
The second type of drug testing is the GC-MS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry) test. This is valuable during the confirmation phase to validate an initial urine drug screen with a non-negative result. This test uses a more advanced technique to quantify the exact concentration of drugs in the system.
Accuracy of Results
The guidelines under the AS/NZ Standards provide the most reliable and accurate results in urine drug testing. By following the sample collection, storage, and handling procedures, it maintains the validity of urine for testing. Likewise, certified test kits meet the requirements to detect drugs correctly.
Furthermore, using the GC-MS technique is the gold standard in drug testing. It can accurately detect the presence of drugs in the sample, as well as confirm their levels. This ensures that any non-negative results are valid and can be used for further legal proceedings. Hence, it assures workplaces that the testing methods are compliant with relevant regulations.
Overall, the AS/NZS 4308:2008 set the guidelines for accurate and reliable urine drug testing. It outlines the procedures for the collection, storage, and analysis of drugs. This helps to eliminate variations in the testing process across various industries. Moreover, it ensures the validity of the test results and increases the effectiveness of drug testing programs. A trained collector must follow the chain of custody process of handling the urine specimens. Also, the collection devices or test kits must be certified.
The standard is valuable in the workplace, healthcare, and legal settings. It involves initial screening and confirmatory testing to guarantee the accuracy of results. This will help to protect employees and other members of the public from the hazards of drug use. In addition, it helps reduce the risk of false positives. It is essential for organisations to adhere to these guidelines to comply with safety standards and minimise potential legal issues.