A saliva test is being introduced as an alternative to urine samples, to screen for drugs in workplaces for the first time in New Zealand.
Canterbury Health Laboratories is the first in the country to make the saliva tests available. They can detect amphetamines, opiates, cannabis and cocaine.
Toxicology head Grant Moore said the test, also known as an oral fluid or a mouth swab drug test, detects drugs that have just been taken so employers can see if they've been used in the workplace.
"The advantage of testing saliva is that urine testing picks up drugs that have passed through the body whereas saliva registers drugs that may have just been taken but have not yet been fully processed internally.
"This means that, depending on an organisation's employment policies, it could be used straight away if impairment was suspected or a workplace accident has occurred, and the test is sent away for testing with results within four to five days."
He said somebody who takes cannabis in the weekend will remain positive for two to three days in a urine test - instead of 24 hours for a saliva test.
Employers can do the swab kits themselves.
"People want their loved ones coming home safely from work.
"By making drug screening easier and more convenient we hope we can help make workplaces safer for more Kiwis," Moore said.
A bill is before parliament on police implementing a roadside oral testing regime, also known as a swab test.
Currently, they conduct an impairment test to assess behaviour and if a driver fails that, they are taken to give a blood test.
Moore said their saliva drug test kits and confirmatory testing have only just been launched, so they have not been in contact with organisations such as police at this stage.