SPECIAL OFFER – How to fight drug use at your workplace

By Portner Press on August 14th, 2018
  1. Employee health & wellbeing
  2. Drugs and Alcohol Policy


Portner Press has an early bird release of its brand-new eBook: Drug & Alcohol Testing in the Workplace for readers of the Health & Safety Bulletin. Read on to find out why you need a copy and how you can purchase one today.

Business SA’s recent discussion paper The Ice Age highlights the predominance of the drug ice among workers in safety-critical industries, such as construction, mining, agriculture and transport.

Out of the almost 850,000 workers in these industries, it is estimated that every day at least 18,500 of them turn up to work with methamphetamines in their system.

However, this figure, based on data from SafeWork Laboratories – a company that drug-tests workers – could be much higher.

SafeWork Laboratories Toxicologist Andrew Leibie said that many workplaces did not test for drugs because staff who couldn’t attend work after testing positive would be difficult to replace at short notice.

He also mentioned questions of workers’ rights and a widespread feeling that employers did not need to know, or have a right to know what their employees did on the weekend.

“[B]ut if you haven’t slept for 24 hours and you’re entering a safety site, fatigue management is a real issue,” he said.

According to Mr Leibie, there is no safe or tolerable limit for methamphetamine, and anyone who tests positive for even very small amounts is unfit for work.

And the dangers of methamphetamine use aren’t just limited to safety-critical industries.

Most ‘meth’ users are employed

Out of the estimated 270,000 methamphetamine users throughout Australia, 220,000 are known to be employed.

Mr Leibie stressed that users who don’t work in safety-critical industries are still putting themselves and others at risk if they’re driving to work or driving their children to school.

Wastewater drug testing carried out by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission earlier this year showed that Australians were consuming more than 8,000kg of the drug annually.

Using this method of detection, methamphetamine consumption was found to be higher on weekends, which raises a concern that employees who use it on their days off may not realise that it can still pose an occupational health and safety risk days later, as methamphetamines can remain in a person’s system for up to 48 hours.

Ken Pidd, Deputy Director of The National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, said that the culture of the workplace itself can play a large role in influencing drug use.

Methamphetamine use may be seen as a social activity and encouraged among younger workers in trade industries.

However, “no workplace is immune” and “high levels of stress, long hours and shift work contribute to an elevated risk,” he said.

The National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University revealed in a 2013-2014 study that the estimated social cost of methamphetamine use was more than $5 billion annually.

Use of this drug also cost Australian businesses an estimated $289 million in that same 12-month period, because of workplace accidents and absenteeism.

For safety reasons, many industries have introduced drug and alcohol testing, along with the appropriate policies, as part of their health and safety obligations to provide workers with a safe workplace.

Help keep drugs out of the workplace

Do you know how to introduce drug and alcohol testing at your organisation? How would you write policies that workers would agree with? What obstacles might you encounter, and how would you overcome them? Which type of testing is best?

As we stated at the opening of today’s bulletin, the Drug & Alcohol Testing in the Workplace eBook that will answer all your questions and provide the information you need to successfully introduce drug and alcohol testing into your workplace.

Regardless of what type of industry your business operates in, random drug and alcohol testing is a proven deterrent – if introduced and administered correctly.

Get your copy today and start the process of providing all your workers with a safe working environment.


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