Safework Health provides hair follicle drug testing;
Hair Drug Testing

Hair Drug Testing

Safework Health can provide a hair drug test onsite at your workplace or at our sites located across Australia. 

What is a hair drug test?

A hair follicle drug test is a type of drug test that analyses a sampe of an individual’s hair to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites, which are substances produced when the body processes drugs.

Hair drug testing can provide information about an individual’s drug use over the past few months, making it a useful tool for employers, legal authorities and healthcare providers to detect long-term drug use. 

Safework Health provides hair follicle drug testing;

What are the benefits of hair drug testing?

It is a reliable and convenient alternative to urine or oral fluid (saliva) drug testing. Whilst it is not a substitute for these assays, it can give you a snapshot of the worker’s long-term drug-using behaviour. 

Drug users often attempt to conceal their drug use and it is possible for a regular user to abstain from drugs for the period necessary to evade the drug’s detection window if they know testing will be performed. This type of testing is especially useful in safety-critical or zero-tolerance drug use environments.

Hair follicle drug testing is also less intrusive than urine testing and more difficult to manipulate or mask than other approaches.

How are hair samples collected?

During testing, technicians will cut a lock of hair of around 200mg from the vertex of the scalp, which is the area at the back of the donor’s head. The amount of hair samples taken is equivalent to the size and thickness of a small pencil. We routinely collect the lock of hair close to the scalp.

If there is no or insufficient scalp hair (i.e., the hair length is ≲ 1 cm) beard hair can be used but it is not possible to accurately determine the time period covered by such a sample because beard growth is highly variable between men. 

Safework Health does not recommend using, nor does it analyse body hair, as drug uptake rates are variable, location-dependent and the rate of growth of body hair is poorly understood.

Hair grows at a rate of roughly 3.8 cm every 3 months so the length of a hair sample determines the time-span that can be examined. If the hair is long, we can perform a segmental analysis – cutting the hair into monthly segments (around ~ 1 cm) – to get a progressive picture of the donor’s drug use.

Safework Health’s hair-testing processes

Safework Health’s national network of laboratories uses an accredited testing methodology to check hair samples for the presence of drug traces. Unlike urine or oral fluid, it is very difficult to interfere with the testing process by substitution or manipulation of the sample.

Safework Health performs hair drug testing based on several international guidelines and procedures including those published by the (International) Society of Hair Testing

Results are usually available within 7 – 10 working days.

What drugs are detected?

Unlike urine or saliva testing, there is no specific Australian Standard for detecting drugs of abuse in hair.

Hair drug tests can quickly and accurately detect the presence of a wide range of illicit and prescription drugs including:

What are the limitations of hair drug testing?

Hair drug testing cannot replace standard drug screening with urine or saliva. A routine hair analysis is unlikely to detect small, infrequent drug use episodes, or very recent exposure (such as in the last week).

The hair follicle grows in the scalp and takes between 10 to 14 days to emerge from the plane of the scalp, so hair samples will not cover drug use over the 1½ to 2 weeks immediately preceding the collection.

However, hair follicle drug testing is an excellent tool for abstinence monitoring or longer window (several months) pre-employment drug testing.

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More Information

Contact us today to learn more about our hair drug testing services.


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