Coked-up workers at all-time high

 

COKED-UP workers are on the rise in the Sunshine State, with some companies witnessing an all-time high.

Exclusive data from Queensland drug screening company Fit4Duty shows it is detecting more cocaine than ever before.

The figures reveal there has been a threefold increase in cocaine positive results this year compared to last.

Fit4Duty managing director Scott Osborne said it started as a national trend in early 2018, with Queensland catching up in the past six to eight months.

"We have confirmed the presence of cocaine in more workers in Queensland in the first seven months of the year than we saw in the entire last year," he said.

"This reflects a national upwards trend that appears to have started in NSW and then spread to the other states."

Cocaine's ascendancy in Queensland has been confirmed by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Earlier this year it reported Queensland had the nation's second-highest average cocaine consumption in regional areas.

Due to confidentiality agreements, Fit4Duty was unable to identify the industries where cocaine abuse was ­occurring. However, drug screening is more often conducted in safety critical jobs such as mining and transport.

Shine Lawyers employment law expert Will Barsby said companies needed a certain level of justification to subject workers to drug tests.

"It's reasonable for an employer to have a random testing program where there is a legal duty to reduce the risk or maintain a very safe workplace," he said.

"It's more unlikely that it would be lawful in an office-type setting."

One exception is workplaces that incorporate both office and industry jobs. Energy provider Energex, for example, tests all staff whether shuffling papers or handling high voltage equipment.

Despite the spike in cocaine, Mr Osborne said cannabis was still the most common drug, followed by amphetamines such as ice.

"Cannabis appears at twice the level that methamphetamine does in the workplace," he said.

Since 2013, Fit4Duty recorded a 66 per cent fall in meth-positive results.

This is likely due to the deterrence effect of drug testing rather than an overall trend, he said.

Another drug screening company, which spoke on the condition of anonymity, said meth was still a force in Queensland's job market.