28th March, 2022
Hair Follicle Testing
The Victorian Ambulance Union Incorporated (VAU) are aware that ‘for cause’ drug testing, including hair follicle testing, is planned to occur in some AV locations over coming weeks. Several members have raised concerns about this.
Hair testing can be extremely stressful for those involved and members are encouraged to touch base with the union confidentially to seek advice if you have questions. In the past these tests have been handled very poorly and the VAU has intervened in a number of these instances and made formal complaints about the conduct of the tests. Although tests conducted more recently have been performed more professionally it is important to be vigilant.
While testing is compulsory, you will be asked to provide your consent to the test by the contracted collector. You have the right to ask questions and to be comfortable before consenting to the test.
Do not be hurried into the test if you are not comfortable. If you get the “oh so you’re refusing to be tested” line – you should report that as inappropriate behaviour. You are not refusing the test by asking questions about the test.
You should take the time to discuss the process carefully with the tester and you can request a colleague or support person to accompany you and to watch that the test is conducted correctly – even to the point of showing the sample size prior to being cut.
The tester should explain to you and show you how they plan to store the sample and protect it from being contaminated, and that they have sterile equipment including scissors, gloves, and surface.
Two hair samples will be taken from the back of the head which comprise no more than 50 individual hairs each. This equates to two samples about the thickness of an iPhone charger cable.
If you are not comfortable with the conduct of the test, then you should report this to the VAU so we can make a formal complaint on your behalf if that is necessary.
Members who have concerns are encouraged to make contact to the union directly and discuss this further. Member concerns will be handled with complete confidentiality.