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Drug & Alcohol Testing

The impact of drugs and alcohol, and the directly related injuries and incidents, is a serious issue in the workplace. Many industries are taking a consistent approach to ensure that safety is not put at risk by persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the workplace.  The timber industry is no different to other industries in this respect. Employers of the contractor workforce are now requiring, or will be requiring, their contractors to provide evidence of proactive drug and alcohol policies backed with testing regimes.
Generally there are three points at which drug and alcohol testing is undertaken:

  1. At the point of pre-employment - this is undertaken by a medical practitioner when the pre-employment medical is completed in a controlled and clinical environment.
  2. Random testing - a drug and alcohol test is usually undertaken on random basis or where there is due cause to believe there may be an issue with an employee or group of employees.
  3. Post incident drug and alcohol testing - to determine if drugs or alcohol were directly related to the incident.

The purpose of drug and alcohol testing is to determine if an individual is or is not impaired by drugs or alcohol. 
Sampling methods may vary but usually are blood, urine, breath or saliva tests.  The method of testing can determine who may do the testing, i.e. blood and urine tests are completed by a doctor or medical staff, whereas breath and saliva testing can be undertaken by a trained person using correctly calibrated equipment.
Drug and alcohol testing completed by a doctor or medical staff.

  • Positives – one stop shop; confidentiality not an issue; training and equipment are no issue; these people normally have the ability to give qualified counselling; lower risk of litigation.
  • Negatives – generally more expensive per test; doctors and clinics that provide these services may not be available within smaller communities; the employer has to develop a working relationship with the doctor or clinic.

Drug and alcohol testing completed by employer.

  • Positives – generally cheaper testing; testing is easier to arrange; results are gained quicker and can be completed outside of normal medical clinic hours.
  • Negatives – the persons completing the testing must be suitably trained; the equipment used must be calibrated; confidentiality is a greater risk; a positive result would generally be referred to a doctor for further testing; higher risk of litigation.

This is only the tip of the iceberg on this subject, but remember that confidentiality is paramount with test results and you need to ensure that all of the boxes are ticked.

If you require further information on the subject please contact us on 1800 054 659.