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Saliva vs Urine Testing: What’s the difference?

Friday, 29 Jul 2016
Saliva vs Urine Testing: What’s the difference?

A common question often asked about drug and alcohol testing is“should our company do saliva or urine drug testing?”

The response to this question requires a multi-aspect answer as there are quite a few things to consider!

Both oral and urine drug testing are available on-site or within clinics. Previously, many companies have chosen urine drug testing as there are multiple studies showing its effectiveness, sensitivity and specificity. Additionally, the advantages and disadvantages of urine testing are generally understood. However, with some authorities, regulators such as CASA and SA Rail Safety), and law enforcement agencies opting for saliva (or oral fluid) testing, the question surrounding which method of testing a company should use has become a common one!

It’s important to point out from the outset that a comprehensive alcohol and other drugs (AOD) policy and procedure is required prior to undertaking any form of drug and alcohol testing. What’s more, the policy and procedure should not just concentrate on the testing – education and rehabilitation of workers must also be included. If you are unsure whether your company’s drug and alcohol policy and procedure can withstand appeals and complex cases, our doctor’s can assist with creating robust and effective AOD policies and procedures.

The table below outlines a very simple comparison between urine and oral fluid drug screening. As well as the table below, workplaces should consider reading recent Fair Work Australia cases regarding saliva and urine workplace testing, as there have been some interesting findings!

Note, as technology improves this table can quickly change so accessing up to date information is always recommended.

Comparison of Oral Fluid and Urine Drug Screening

Drug & Alcohol Comparison Chart

For further information or to arrange testing in your workplace, contact our Site Services Team on 1300 339 557 or contact one of our friendly Client Partners.


Dr Keith Adam

Dr Keith Adam is a Senior Specialist Occupational Physician with Sonic HealthPlus and an Associate Professor of Occupational Medicine with the University of Queensland. Treating and rehabilitating injured workers since 1984, Dr Adam has extensive experience in determining what duties injured workers may be able to perform, and managing return to work programmes.