In Australia, it is legal to perform drug and alcohol testing in the workplace but you must have a drug and alcohol policy in place before implementing a testing programme. How often you test and what you test for will be clarified in this policy.
All employees must be aware of the specific terms of your policy as well as what type of tests they will be asked to undergo.
Setting the Parameters of your Drug and Alcohol Policy
It’s important to set the right parameters in your drug and alcohol policy so that you can legally conduct workplace testing.
Depending on your industry you might want to set parameters for when and how often testing can occur, whether it will be random or scheduled, the type of testing, and what happens if non-negative results are confirmed positive in a laboratory.
By making the guidelines clear you can ensure your employees are educated on the terms of your policy and their obligations, and will comply with your testing requests.
Compulsory Workplace Drug Testing
Some industries, such as aviation, transport and construction, are regulated to conduct drug and alcohol testing to maintain safety by law.
This means anyone working on the railways, in mining, road transport, civil aviation, and construction sites and projects funded by the Commonwealth Government must agree to be tested according to the relevant policy for that industry and employer.
If you have reasonable suspicion that one or more of your employees are under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, you have the right to request a drug or alcohol test as part of your agreed upon drug and alcohol policy.
An organisation is responsible for providing a safe workplace for employees, contractors and visitors. Depending on workplace policy, it may be reasonable to administer urine or saliva tests, or both.
Pre-Employment Drug Testing
Keeping your employees drug and alcohol free starts with recruiting the right people, and pre-employment drug testing, particularly in high-risk industries, will help to protect your organisation and your existing employees.
Although an applicant’s resume may appear great, it doesn’t mean they don’t use drugs. Screening beforehand is the best way to get employment off to a safe start.
Other Types of Workplace Drug Testing
Most employers use urine testing to screen for drugs and alcohol, but there are other methods that can also work well.
Saliva swabs are less invasive and faster than urine tests and they’re perfect for detecting if the employee is fit for the current shift. Workplace alcohol breathalysers can quickly detect alcohol, either with a simple pass or fail message in passive mode or a blood alcohol reading (BAC) in active mode.