Many workplaces check commonly for alcohol and different medicine. Picture / 123rf
Alcohol and different drug use is a significant downside in Australian workplaces, costing greater than A$4 billion ($4.3b) a 12 months. Of this, A$3.6 billion is because of absenteeism.
Whereas testing is authorized to make sure the well being and security of staff, firms should have specific insurance policies telling workers their aims and the implications of being drug affected at work.
Many workplaces, notably in safety-sensitive industries like constructing and building, manufacturing, mining, transport and aviation, check commonly for alcohol and different medicine. Workers can be fired for refusing to take part.
Each the Broderick report into bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct on the NSW parliament in 2022 and the Jenkins report into Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces in 2021 recognized alcohol as a major psychosocial danger within the office.
How ought to testing be carried out?
Whereas office well being and security legal guidelines are largely uniform nationwide, there are not any particular provisions relating to how and in what approach alcohol and different drug testing needs to be carried out.
Most workplaces that test do it either at random intervals and with no discover as staff enter high-risk worksites if there’s a suspicion of use, or when a security incident happens.
Testing often entails breath assessments for alcohol, just like police roadside testing of drivers, or urine or saliva assessments for different medicine. Requirements require optimistic assessments to endure additional testing in a laboratory to substantiate the consequence.
Alcohol testing is an efficient method to detect somebody who’s unfit for work as a result of they’re intoxicated. The check entails measuring alcohol within the bloodstream and correlating this with impairment.
Even office testing is just not foolproof
The issue with testing for illicit and pharmaceutical medicine is that these tests don’t necessarily indicate intoxication.
Each urine and saliva assessments have lengthy detection home windows, so medicine might be detected hours, days and even months after the results have worn off.
THC (Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive element of hashish, might be detected as much as 30 hours after consumption in a saliva check and practically a month after consumption in a urine check.
The Victorian parliament is holding an inquiry into the legal guidelines governing office drug testing, with a selected give attention to whether or not legal guidelines discriminate in opposition to medicinal hashish customers.
Beneath its phrases of reference, the inquiry is contemplating whether or not testing could also be improved to make sure due course of and pure justice happen in workplaces with these customers.
Is there proof to assist office drug testing?
Drug testing is considered quite invasive so it wants robust proof to justify its use. However there may be restricted analysis of fine high quality out there.
The proof we do have is blended. There may be some indication testing can cut back danger of damage, however different analysis has discovered no influence.
The best-quality proof reveals testing doesn’t cut back general alcohol or different drug use. One examine discovered of 11 evaluations, solely two confirmed assessments lower alcohol or different drug use charges.
What makes good alcohol and different drug coverage?
So testing could also be useful for office security in industries the place there’s a excessive danger of damage, but it surely’s not sufficient by itself to enhance the well being of a lot of the workforce.
For that to happen, testing must be a part of a complete office technique. Fatigue, stress, and psychological well being issues can all influence well being and security in comparable methods to alcohol and different medicine.
So there must be a broader consideration of “health for work” than simply alcohol and different drug intoxication.
Additionally, a lot of the detrimental influence of alcohol and different medicine within the office is just not in security however in productiveness and absenteeism charges.
A superb coverage on alcohol and different medicine reduces the damaging results of utilization, fatigue, stress and psychological well being points by making a wholesome office tradition the place:
- wellbeing is valued and supported
- staff obtain early training and assist
- managers and staff leaders are educated to determine staff in danger
- clear referral choices similar to an recognized worker help programme (EAP) supplier can be found
- there are return-to-work choices for staff who’ve been impaired
- there are clear expectations about what’s and what’s not acceptable to make sure health for work.
Workplaces with efficient drug and alcohol insurance policies have happier, more healthy and extra productive workers and decreased absenteeism.