Drug testing in the workplace has become increasingly common. This comes as no surprise considering the rate which drug use and abuse is growing in the workplace. Employers have every right to be concerned as drug use usually has adverse effects on productivity. Moreover, it is within employers’ rights to take any action that they deem necessary to protect, not only the health and safety of their employees, but also the company as a whole. If you are an employer looking to implement drug testing in your organisation, here’s everything you need to know.
Workplace Drug Use Statistics
Every year, alcohol and drug use costs Australian workplaces approximately $6 billion in lost productivity.
Research has also revealed that the Australian workplace loses about 2.5 million working days due to alcohol and drug use. This translates to more than $680 million in lost revenue.
It has been revealed that 1 in 10 employees have been affected by a colleague’s alcohol use in their workplace. This use has resulted in either the reduced ability or being unable to do their job, having an accident or a near miss, or having to work extra hours to cover for a coworker.
While these are disturbing statistics, what do they mean for your workplace?
If one of your employees has a drug or substance problem, they are likely to:
Have impaired work performance. This results in issues like missed deadlines, making more mistakes than usual, and an overall lack of efficiency and productivity.
Have poor time-keeping skills which increase the chances of absenteeism.
Have an inability to focus on their tasks.
Have energy and mood changes which can affect those around them.
When any of the above happens, it often leads to decreased cooperation and morale between colleagues which impacts the overall productivity of your wider workforce, thus triggering retention issues.
Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for staff, visitors, contractors, and the general public. Therefore, it is crucial that an employer is able to identify the signs of drug use so they are able to act quickly upon suspecting that a worker is using drugs or alcohol in the workplace.
In addition, it is not just the consumption of alcohol and the usage of drugs during work hours that can compromise the health of your employees, workplace safety and productivity; hangovers from the previous night’s substance use can also affect their ability to perform their jobs optimally.
What is Drug Testing?
Drug testing refers to the utilisation of various techniques to look for the presence or absence of specified drugs and their metabolites through the technical analysis of a biological specimen. Metabolites refer to the substances the body produces after metabolising those drugs. The most commonly used biological specimens for drug testing include blood, saliva, sweat, urine, and hair.
Drug test kits have typically been used in the medical, sports, and legal fields. However, they are gaining popularity in the workplace especially in industries where safety is critical.
Workplace drug and alcohol testing should not be perceived as a sign of distrust or as a punishment; rather, it is should be appreciated as a way of caring about your employees’ welfare, as well as that of the people around them. This is because most employees do the right thing and expect others to do the same. As such, you have a duty of care to ensure that your work environment is safe for everyone by making sure no one is compromising that safety. This is why you are able to legally conduct a workplace drug test in Australia.
Nevertheless, you should not perform this operation covertly, rather, let your employees know about the incoming policies before introducing the program.
Mandatory Drug Testing
While performing drug tests is good practice for almost every sector, there are certain industries where drug and substance testing is mandatory. They include:
Mining employees are one of the most tested workers across all industries. In fact, each time an employee enters the work site they are subject to a mandatory alcohol screen and/or a random drug test. The intricate and delicate nature of the mining business requires that workers maintain their full focus to ensure that no accidents happen.
The Drug and Alcohol Management Plant (DAMP) is a programme by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority that contains strict rules and regulations concerning drug and alcohol use in the airline industry. Every organisation within the airline industry must abide by those regulations. The programme outlines how they will deal with alcohol and other drugs.
With more and more truck drivers testing positive for drugs on Australian roads, drug testing these individuals is now incredibly necessary due to the risk they pose to other road users.
Over the past few years, Australia’s construction industry has ramped up its drug testing efforts. In fact, the government has made random drug testing mandatory for publicly funded projects. This is as a response to the tainted name that the industry has acquired due to the number of accidents caused by operating machinery while under the influence.
Types of Drug Tests
The most common types of on-site drug tests include saliva and urine drug tests that are typically done using a swab drug test kit, urine drug testing kits, or an alcohol breathalyser.
Urine and saliva drug tests kits are the most common workplace testing methods as they are the most cost-efficient methods of effectively detecting drug use among workers. While saliva testing is often the most preferred drug and alcohol test, urine tests can also be reasonably carried out on a regular basis.
What is the most accurate drug testing method?
When each aspect of the testing process is properly done, any type of drug test can be accurate and reliable. Nevertheless, blood drug tests offer the most accurate results but are rarely used in the workplace due to their invasive nature in addition to their need for specialised equipment and medically trained administrators. Blood tests, therefore, can be quite costly.
Urine and saliva drug tests are not as invasive as blood analysis and are therefore less expensive. Urine tests are usually good at detecting infrequent or recent use. Thus, their accuracy and low costs make them the preferred drug testing procedure in the workplace.
Drug and alcohol use in the workplace has a detrimental impact on your employees’ health and safety, as well as overall productivity. To avoid this, you need to lay down measures that ensure such scenarios are avoided. Introducing drug tests in your business or organization will greatly lower the effects of drug use in your company, thus leading to a safer, healthier, and more productive workplace.
Medinat has been supplying drug testing kits to the Australian workplace for close to a decade. We realise the need for a safe and comfortable environment and that is why, in addition to our drug test kits, we also provide you with a workplace drug and alcohol testing course so that you are able to perform the drug tests yourself while getting accurate and professional results. Contact us today for more information.