Designer drug could threaten workplace safety

Safe Work Laboratories

Tuesday, 06 December, 2016

Designer drug could threaten workplace safety

Positive results for a designer drug known colloquially as ‘N-Bomb’ have been detected on worksites in Western Australia and Queensland, according to Safework Laboratories.

The psychoactive compound NBOMe can cause severe hallucinations and erratic behaviour, which is problematic in terms of ensuring worker safety.

“NBOMe compounds are extremely potent, with as little as thousandths of a gram enough to cause major effects on those who consume it — including violent or frightening hallucinations, major cardiac symptoms, nausea and vomiting,” said Andrew Leibie, Safework Laboratories’ national marketing director and forensic toxicologist.

“NBOMe compounds are also associated with bizarre behaviours such as running into buildings headfirst or running into moving traffic. 

“The impact a worker affected by these drugs could have while operating heavy machinery or in a safety-sensitive workplace is terrifying to consider.” 

NBOMe compounds cannot be detected by normal workplace drug tests and the recent positives were only discovered during more advanced testing requested by a particular workplace. 

“At the moment, we believe NBOMe is still relatively rare in Australia, but the incidence is increasing,” Leibie said. 

“As it makes its way through society, it may become more important to broaden the range of compounds tested for at safety sensitive workplaces.”

Traces of NBOMe can be detected in users up to 48 hours after consumption.

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