Safety Solutions | August 2018
Outsourcing workplace drug and alcohol testing
Tuesday, 07 August, 2018
Safety in the workplace is compromised by substance abuse, with drugs and alcohol playing a key part in injuries and fatalities.
Australian businesses lose an estimated $6 billion annually due to substance use-related productivity issues and 7.5% of hospital morbidity is related to alcohol consumption in the workplace.
“This abuse also contributes to adverse productivity outcomes such as absenteeism, lateness, a decrease in attention span, poor coordination, difficulty in comprehension and slower reaction time,” said Jaka Exstrada, Business Development Manager at Andatech.
“Workplace drug and alcohol testing is increasing in Australia but is still well under 10% of the workforce, whereas in the US, the level is over 40%.”
Many employers who want to carry out tests but cannot justify having an in-house drug and alcohol regime for random testing, post-incident and emergency testing are turning to outsourced testing, which is becoming more readily available.
This outsourced testing can be more affordable and customised for each organisation, tailoring the level of equipment, the frequency and the volume of drug and alcohol testing to suit their requirements.
“Organisations may not realise that on-site drug testing services, either urine or oral, can be set up for as little as one person per year. In addition, they can also opt for education and awareness presentations and inductions, and policy and procedure development,” said Exstrada.
Testing improves employee compliance
One Melbourne manufacturer that decided to commence in-house testing earlier this year has seen the incidence of positive readings halved from an average of 4–6%, so it is now only 1–3%, depending on the site.
They expect this will continue to improve as staff know that they can’t get away with it.
The purpose of that company’s testing regime is to prevent staff from arriving at work still under the influence of drugs or alcohol as they are putting themselves and others at risk from injury, or worse.
To this end, it conducts various types of testing including random testing and special days testing when people are more likely to give a positive result, such as the days after Melbourne Cup Day or Australia Day.
It also does pre-employment tests, incident tests and for-cause tests where they suspect someone may be under the influence.
In addition, the Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) Coordinator will sometimes stand at the entrance and test everyone coming through the gate, which can be up to 70 people, and other times it will be a handful of people in one area of the factory.
When they are breathalysing a lot of people, they can make use of Prodigy’s passive sampling cup to capture the breath, which provides fast results. If this comes up positive, a more accurate test can be carried out with a mouthpiece.
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