Cousin Drugs – One Molecule Away From Illegal

As if employers don’t have enough to worry about when it comes to illicit drug use by workers, there are now “cousin drugs.” Cousin drugs may be “…only one molecule apart from their banned relatives.”1 These drugs are sometimes made by combining two other drugs and the chemical reaction creates a new chemical composition that is technically not illegal or by altering an illegal drug through the addition of solutions and then heating the concoction.

One of the best examples of cousin drugs is called 2C-E and in street parlance it is sometimes referred to as Europa or Tootsie. This drug is so new to everyday users that a search on the Australian Drug Foundation website produces no results. This drug is also technically legal because it is not specifically listed as a controlled substance by the government. It has actually been around since the late 1970s but was intended only for industrial or chemical research use. The drug named 2C-E is a powerful synthetic hallucinogenic that is a “cousin” to the rave-party drugs in the 2C class of drugs and can produce as deadly results as other illicit substances.

What exactly is the drug 2C-E then? The term 2C-E is an acronym for 2, 5-dimethoxy-4-ethylphenethylamine. It is a member of the psychoactive drug class called entactogenic meaning it produces effects similar to those of MDMA.  The cousin drugs like 2C-E are not well documented as of yet in terms of street or party use, but Wikipedia describes it as a “psychedelic and phenethylamine of the 2C family.”2 The 2C drug class refers to psychedelic drugs that contain phenethylamine which in organic chemistry means that the drug contains methoxy groups on the 2 and 5 positions of the benzene ring.

Describing this drug in its simplest terms, 2C-E is a phenethylamine derivative. It is the word “derivative” that reminds us that this drug is one molecule off from the original psychedelic drugs from which it is made. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 2C-E is an analog of 2C-B meaning it has a close but not exact chemical composition.

According to the drug forums, 2C-E produces the same effect as having taken a dose of LSD and mushrooms. Taken in pill or powder form, it produces vivid visual effects that can last for up to 12 hours. It is dose sensitive with 15mg producing exponential effects compared to 10 mg. This drug is illegal in some countries, but not all. In fact, in the U.S. you can legally buy it online because it is sold as a research chemical, and Australia has not yet included it on the illicit drugs list. It’s actually been around for decades, as mentioned, but only recently has started showing up at parties and clubs as a street drug.

When it shows up the consequences can be tragic. The reason cousin drugs are coming to forefront of discussions is that a young 21-year old man died and 11 others aged 16 to 21 had to be hospitalised after taking 2C-E.3 The rest of the story is that the US law enforcement agents reported that the synthetic legal drugs are showing up more frequently and that analog or cousin drugs are a growing problem.4

Clearly the laws on drugs are going to have to be amended in countries around the world to address the use of cousin drugs for the sole purpose of getting high. For example, the 2C class of drugs include 2C-C and 2C-I (both illegal) and 2C-E (legal). The only differences in structure are related to the “…substituent present at the 4-position of the aromatic ring (chloride, iodide and ethyl, respectively.”5 Thus the “one molecule” reference.

Employers cannot be expected to keep up with every drug that drug users can invent. Fortunately, employers have the right to address any on-the-job behaviour from a safety perspective. Any staff member exhibiting behaviour that jeopardises the safety of the worker or co-workers can be drug tested for cause and stopped from completing job duties until able to once again perform tasks safely.

Employers do have an obligation though to keep their drug testing equipment as technologically current as possible. That is where CMM Technology at http://www.cmm.com.au/ can help because equipment is under constant development to insure employers are able to test for the most popular illicit drugs even when used in new formulas. There is no way to catch every cousin drug thanks to the innovativeness of drug users, but that should not prevent efforts to keep the workplace as safe as possible.

References

1Bannow, T. (2011, March 18). Deadly Party Shows Danger of ‘Cousin Drugs’. Retrieved April 3, 2011, from Star-Telegram: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/03/18/2933116/deadly-party-shows-danger-of-cousin.html#tvg

22C-E. (2011, April 6). Retrieved April 6, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2C-E

3Op Cit, Bannow

4Mannix, A. (2011, March 18). 2C-E: What Is It? Retrieved April 6, 2011, from City Pages: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/03/2c-e_what_is_it.php

5Drugs Forum. (2011). 2C-E. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from Drugs-Forum: http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showwiki.php?title=2C-E

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Employee Expectations of Management During the Holiday Season

Dealing with your staff during the major holidays can be a little like dealing with unruly offspring. Your goal is to make the most of this profitable time of the year, while their goal is seemingly to get away with as much as possible. What can you do?

According to Anne Harrington,[1] a “placebo effect” can occur in many types of situations in life, including time intervals. The placebo effect is a term originally coined to describe doctors giving their patients sugar pills and the psychosomatic result that the patient would then receive neurological “backing” of their definition of healing, and the body would engage the healing process more aggressively, resulting in a cure without actual medication. Harrington determined that the psychosomatic placebo effect can engage in various situations, such as times of the week and year.

Just as endorphins release in the body at the end of the work week on Friday and stress hormones increase at the beginning of the work week on Monday, physiological changes can occur at different times of the year. [2] Around the major and even minor holidays, the “Friday effect” can engage physically within the brain and body, temporarily increasing employee energy levels, speeding up production, and producing sensations of excitement and joy.

In research performed by Peter Henle,[3] the declining number of working hours within a day or a week was investigated. Since the Industrial Revolution, employees have required less working time within the day in order to make a livable income. Since the mid twentieth-century, the focus of the productive day has been less concentrated on getting all of the work done and the resulting feelings of accomplishment, and more focused on “getting through” the workday and the resulting permission to relax and enjoy oneself afterwards. This is partly due to the fact that modern employees have far less control over their environment of labor and receive far less responsibility than their predecessors. They can control and manipulate their environment of relaxation, which makes them enjoy this scenario much more.

During the holiday season, the placebo effect is induced by the anticipation [2] of family bonding, time off of work, bonus cheques, a potential raise, and the holiday season. Typically, children and adolescents receive long periods of time off from studies and work due to the holidays, and this can be an additional factor which carries these feelings of joy into adulthood, even if little or no time off of work is received. These are strong physiological changes in the body and even if employees do not receive a three or four week vacation, the constant sensation that they “should” receive one can further affect the endorphin release.

It is at this time of the year that employees can become less discerning about the quality of their work, more fickle with their employer-employee relationships, and can be more motivated to increase and continue the endorphin release with alcohol and drug abuse. Understanding their mindset is important in developing effective production and service methods during this time of the year.

1. Harrington, Anne. The placebo effect: an interdisciplinary exploration. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997. Print.

2. Rotgers, Frederick, Daniel S. Keller, and Jon Morgenstern. Treating substance abuse: theory and technique. New York: Guilford Press, 1996. Print.

3. Henle, Peter. “Recent Growth of Paid Leisure for U.S. Workers.” HeinOnline.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/month85&div=42&id=&page=.

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Signs that Your Employees are Abusing Substances During the Holidays

The holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year, not only for production companies and merchants, but also for individual employees. It is important to be able to discern substance abuse during this time of the year, since it could severely affect business production during an extremely profitable pay-period.[1]

Signs that your employees are abusing drugs:

  • Hyperactive energy and body language. Employee may display shaking of the body, severe restlessness, agitation, and heightened impatience. [2]
  • Carelessness or thoughtlessness. Employee may mess up routine duties due to not thinking clearly and may seem overly placid when confronted with their mistake.
  • Short-term memory loss or displacement. Employee may forget what they were just doing or saying, they may be easily distracted, or they may sink into a thoughtful or vegetative state in the middle of active job performance.
  • Sudden, drastic changes in stress level. Drug abuse among employees tends to severely decrease stress, which may exhibit as sudden mellowing or increased happiness in mood. Conversely, in some people, this exhibits as a sudden heightening of stress, anxiety or paranoia.
  • Unreliable characteristics. Employees abusing drugs are most likely to show up to work late, not take their duties or responsibilities seriously and to lack dependability if there is a deadline to meet or a workload to maintain.

Signs that your employees are abusing alcohol:

  • Day-to-day changes in mood and vocal performance. Employees may be loud and raucous one day, while being quiet and subdued the next day. This is typically in response to physiological changes in their emotional state due to large amounts of alcohol consumption. [3]
  • Intolerance to change. Employee may exhibit a fairly even keel in their mood during routine activity, but find surprises and unexpected change to be unacceptable. Typically, this is expressed in loud complaining or physical aggression.
  • Laziness and extended breaks. As with drug abuse, employees may reduce their stress levels by indulging in extended break times, slowed productivity when returning to work, shiftlessness and general unwillingness to work or be efficient.
  • Disappearing for periods of time. Employees with alcohol problems tend to disappear for long periods of time without explanation. This can range from several hours to several days in a row. This is due to being incapable of handling everyday responsibilities, causing their internal, perceived stress levels to “max out,” and their excuse for being absent is typically vague and indefinite.

Understanding some typical responses for drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace is essential to developing a reliable, safe, steady working environment. Watch your staff and levels of management for these characteristic signs.

If you require assistance with your Drug & Alcohol Policy or need a supplier of quality drug & alcohol testing products, contact CMM Technology today on +618-9204-2500

1. “ScienceDirect – Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews : Locating Reward Cue at Response Manipulandum (CAM) Induces Symptoms of Drug Abuse.” ScienceDirect – Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2010. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T0J-3RX3VDY-B&_user=10&_coverDate=12%2F31%2F1996&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1606591110&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=9cc95510ea452ca9d690c6f691c84faf&searchtype=a.

2. Koob, George, and Michel Moal. “Drug Abuse: Hedonic Homeostatic Dysregulation | Science/AAAS .” ScienceMag.org . N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2011. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/278/5335/52.abstract.

3. “Patterns of DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence Symptoms in Adolescent Drinkers – Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs .” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs . N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2011. http://www.jsad.com/jsad/article/Patterns_of_DSMIV_Alcohol_Abuse_and_Dependence_Symptoms_in_Adolescent_Drin/272.html.

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Substance Abuse: When Your Employees are Lying to You

If you are a member of management, then you have most likely encountered the unpleasant situation of questioning an employee’s honesty. Even if this is just a doubt in your mind, it can certainly be awkward and uncomfortable to deal with them after the thought has entered your head.

One of the primary reasons to lie to your boss is if you have been abusing drugs or alcohol. Management encounters this predicament many times, and it is important to have a company policy stating intolerance to this type of behavior. It is also important to select protocol to protect the business in case of suspicious activity.

To answer the title of this article “When your employees are lying to you,” there is no definite way to determine this without testing them. It must be noted that drug and alcohol testing is not an invasion of privacy nor a power move made by management. It is the process of actively setting boundaries in order to protect your company’s precious resources. Each business employs specific testing standards by which it guards these resources. This is a fair and reasonable procedure.

In the process of company production, businesses find that in order to engender loyalty and high quality work, they must put their people first. Rather than downsizing on a regular basis and cultivating an atmosphere of anxiety, strong companies invest in their staff and, for this reason, are able to pull through difficult economic times. It is important to build trust and loyalty within your own staff so that you are never on slightly richer, but more shaky ground. Putting your employees above number-crunching may be one of the most successful methods you use to run your company.

If you have previously been lax concerning testing your employees for drugs and alcohol, you may have concerns about implementing a stricter regimen. For this reason, consider the following guidelines:

1. Employees feel safer, and therefore more lenient toward management, when their work spaces are open, bright, airy, clean and enjoyable.

2. Employees will work harder, longer hours and with less pay for a manager or boss whom they respect and trust.

3. Holding employees accountable for their actions in a calm and responsible manner demonstrates that you have high expectations of them, not that you distrust them.

Keep your employees regularly tested for substance abuse, using high quality testing equipment from CMM Technology. Call us today: +618-9204-2500.

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Does Workplace Cleanliness Affect Overall Substance Abuse?

Is it really true that cleanliness is next to holiness? Well, it may not make any of us any more righteous that we were before, but it sure contributes to important issues like safety, morale and confidence.

In research performed by Michael O’Toole, he examines how employee perception of safety is crucial to an organizational culture. [1] Companies which have limited funds available to deal with on-the-job injuries are trying to find ways in which they can organize and manage smarter, in more effective ways. It was found that injury rates were tied to the management’s commitment to safety, which in turn impacted employee perception of safety. Not only were work-related risks increased, but production decreased and efficiency decreased, which were both related to employee perception of lack of safety. These findings support the fact that management should consider drug and alcohol testing more than just company protocol, but also a part of safety procedures.

Cleanliness contributes to two measures of satisfaction: safety and aesthetic appeal. Arthur Brief and Howard Weiss state that the workplace and how it appears affects the attitudes of the employees. [2] This is not just how their mindsets are directly affected, but also how the employees think of the company itself, how it is set up and how they view the upper management. It is based partly upon aesthetic appeal, but also on spacious areas and light colors, which especially affect mood during the winter months and when the employee works long hours.

Brief and Weiss also discuss how influences in the workplace are two-sided. Not only does the organizational structure affect the moods of the employees, but employees’ moods also affect the company. Therefore, it is vital to maintain excellent management-staff relations, not only for the sake of the staff, but also for the sake of everyone. Reactions, disbursement, temperaments, feelings of well-being, and creativity are all a part of the company atmosphere and organizational standard.

Substance abuse testing and cleanliness are one and the same. They each contribute to the internal health of the organization. Any company cannot base their success solely upon revenue. People (both staff and customers), creativity, innovation, acceptance and bonding, workplace environments, and healthy communication are all factors in a strong organization.

Devote time and energy to drug and alcohol testing, as well as to cleanliness. They are interrelated and both provide useful services to your business. Call CMM Technology for drug and alcohol testing equipment today: +618-9204-2500.

1. “The relationship between employees’ perceptions of safety and organizational culture.” Journal of Safety Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V6F-45W35GF-2&_user=10&_coverDate=09%2F30%2F2002&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=gateway&_origin=gateway&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1715613010&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=51661f2e79b9f9512455e14fc739fe85&searchtype=a

2. “Organizational Behavior: Affect In The Workplace – Research and Read Books, Journals, Articles at Questia Online Library.” Questia – The Online Library of Books and Journals. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst?docId=5000597847

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Nailing It – The Construction Industry in Victoria

The building industry in Australia has an extremely high incidence of drug and alcohol usage amongst its workers and is often cited as one of the most unsafe industries in the country. Perhaps, at the heart of this problem is the grassroots notion of Australian mateship, where lunchtime and after hours unwinding in pubs – male camaraderie and blokes’ bonding Aussie style – has stood as the cultural and outside hours/workplace norm. But where once such practices were viewed as culturally and socially acceptable, in today’s changing workplace and community climate they may stand at odds with workplace safety, OHS and the duty of care role of the employer.

Even The Building Trades Group recognizes the problem, and has answered it with the development of The Building Trades Group Drug and Alcohol Program. With a view to teaching workers to self-monitor as well as educating them on available treatments, the program focuses on

  • Raising awareness of safety and health issues related to the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Increasing workers’ commitment to alcohol and drug safety, by seeking to have the policy endorsed on all sites.
  • Training Safety Committee members, delegates and workers on how to implement the Program and intervene when a worker is unsafe or has problems.[1]

But does this approach go far enough? Master Builders Association chief Brian Welch argues it doesn’t. “We are concerned about the presence of drugs on Victorian building sites. Employers should have the freedom without interference from the unions to do random testing.”[2]

In April 2011, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu stated consideration would be given to random testing in the building industry in Victoria. While he was clear to snuff out any pitting of supporters/opponents battling over the issue – maintaining it did not have to be approached as an “adversarial issue,”[3] he and his colleagues were open to the Building Industry’s wish to develop a mandatory drug testing policy for builders tendering for government building jobs.

The Master Builders Association in Victoria is keen for the development of a random testing approach similar to those that have been legislated for the Aviation and Mining and Transport Industries. And while privacy and natural justice issues are cited as the objection to such a policy by opponents, employers argue in favour, because of their increasing demands in terms of Occupational Health and Safety and Risk Management approaches, which require an optimal level employer duty of care.

Worksafe Victoria cites testing as a feasible approach, “where workplace parties are in agreement that making testing available may be appropriate in certain circumstances. (For example, a risk assessment has identified high risks involved in undertaking certain activities whilst under the influence of alcohol.)[4]

If you are developing or considering a workplace drug and alcohol policy and procedure for your industry or business, be sure to contact CMM Technology for product advice and expert consultancy services. Phone CMM Technology on 08-9204-2500


[1] The Building Trades Group Drug and Alcohol Program. http://btgda.org.au/?page_id=157

[2] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/drug-test-victorian-workers/story-fn7x8me2-1226032635370

[3] Ibid.

[4] WORKSAFE VICTORIA / guidelines for developing a workplace alcohol policy. Worksafe Victoria. State Government of Victoria, 2005. Pp 9.

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High Quality Drug and Alcohol Testing and Monitoring in the Aviation Industry: An Imperative

Drug and alcohol use and misuse in industry is frequently hidden, unidentified and unreported. The aviation industry is “no different, and it has been estimated that alcohol abuse and dependence affects approximately 5-8% of all pilots, similar to the proportions in other professional occupations such as law and medicine.”[1] In view of this fact and the findings of the Hamilton Island accident involving six fatalities, mandatory testing was introduced in Australia in 2007. It is therefore imperative a stringent approach to drug and alcohol testing in the aviation industry is effected, and thoroughly and properly maintained.

CMM Technology produces both quality testing equipment in line with Australian standards and also offers a leading consulting service in the area of policy development and program recommendations for testing practices. While drug and alcohol testing and consulting cannot be viewed as stand-alone cure-alls, they must be regarded as an intrinsic component of a thorough, multi-faceted, responsible and cost-effective drug and alcohol risk management approach.  This view is further backed by the Review into Safety Benefits of Introducing Drug and Alcohol Testing for Safety Sensitive Personnel in the Aviation Sector, 2006. A broad range of views were received with regard to available testing options for the report, with supporters arguing it is imperative that any drug and alcohol testing regime included both random and regular options. The types of testing to be considered were: pre-employment, for reasonable cause, post incident or accident, periodic, post treatment or follow up and random.”[2]

Furthermore, the report recommended:

  • zero tolerance testing should apply to five illicit drug groups – cocaine, marijuana,

opiates, amphetamines and phencyclidine and

  • industry be encouraged to implement testing as part of a broader response to drug and

alcohol use in safety-sensitive roles – including better employee education, encouragement of staff to self-identify substance abuse problems and employee assistance programs offering the opportunity of rehabilitation and return to duty.[3]

As Sir John Wheeler maintained in 2005, “employers and issuing authorities should have an ongoing obligation to monitor their employees and alert the central authority if any significant concerns arise at the workplace, including alcoholism or drug use.”[4] While this is now legislated, aviation companies are better able to develop thorough testing and monitoring procedures by sourcing leading, cost-effective testing procedures and specialists such as those supplied by CMM Technology.

For further information on consulting services and cutting edge products, phone CMM Technologies on Tel: +618-9204-2500


[1] Snyder, Q. & Shaw, W., ‘Chemical Free Aviation Workplaces’, Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar, Flight Safety Foundation/National Business Aviation Association Inc – April 2004.

[2] Report: Review into Safety Benefits of Introducing Drug and Alcohol Testing for Safety Sensitive Personnel in the Aviation Sector, 2006. (A Review Undertaken by the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) and the Civil Aviation Authority.) (CASA.) Pp.9-10.  (CASA) pp9-10 http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/safety/pdf/Final_Report_Drug_Alcohol_Testing.pdf

[3] Ibid.

[4] The Rt Hon Sir John Wheeler DL. ‘An Independent Review of Airport Security and Policing for the Government of Australia’. 2005, p. 71. http://www.aspr.gov.au/docs/Security_and_Policing_Review_PUBLIC.pdf

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Risk Management Planning – AOD Testing as a Necessary Component

Suitable and effective Risk Management Planning for major industry requires accurate targeting of the inappropriate AOD (alcohol and other drug) usage of employees and workers.  AT CMM Technology, quality testing products that cost-effectively manage and monitor the issue of Alcohol and Other Drug usage in the workplace have been developed, thereby reducing cost spinoffs, and the OHS and workplace safety compromises that are a consequence of the problem.

As Collins and Lapsley note, AOD “abuse can have an important impact upon the productivity of the paid workforce in three ways, resulting in:

  • Reduction in the size of the available workforce as a result of drug-attributable deaths and illnesses causing premature retirement;
  • Increased workforce absenteeism resulting from drug-attributable sickness or injury;
  • Reduced on-the-job productivity as a result of drug-attributable morbidity.” [1]

A sound risk management strategy therefore needs to prudently engage in appropriate AOD testing and monitoring products, offsetting and/or addressing these issues and the economic shortfalls that are a consequence. For example, The Mines Safety and Inspections Act 1994 requires both employers/employees to  manage AOD on the job issues as a central component of the risk management approach, taking reasonable and practical steps to control and/or rid these risks wherever possible.[2]

CMM Technology testing products and procedures offer viable, quick, reliable and cost-effective solutions that help to identify and manage risk in relation to alcohol and other drugs.

The Medix™ Integrated Pro-Split Cup testing unit is a highly accurate urine tester capable of testing up to 10 different illicit substances. Manufactured specifically for the Australian market, it complies with the Australian Standards AS4308 cut-off marks. For alcohol testing and monitoring, CMM Technology’s Lion alcolmeter® SD-400 is a simple and effective fully automated unit, suitable for heavy industry such as mining, medical departments and also police traffic units. It is not only suitable for fast testing but also satisfies the requirements of evidential testing standards (requiring documentation) and is approved by law enforcement agencies worldwide.

While assessing the cost of alcohol in the workplace remains quantitavely elusive, Collins and Lapsley have estimated the cost to Australian Industry may be as high as $3.2 billion per year.[3]

For assistance on developing a quality workplace drug and alcohol testing solution that otpimises your Risk Management procedures, contact CMM Technology’s team of industry experts today on (+618) 9204 2500.


[1] Collins, D.J and Lapsley, H.M. Counting the cost: estimates of the social costs of drug

abuse in Australia in 1998-9,  Monograph Series no.49, National Drug Strategy, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra.

[2] Western Australian Department of Industry and Resources.  Fatigue Management for the Western Australian Mining Industry – Guideline. Nov 2000.

http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/documents/Guidelines/MSH_G_FatigueManagement.pdf

[3] Collins, D.J and Lapsley, H.M. Counting the cost: estimates of the social costs of drug

abuse in Australia in 1998-9, Monograph Series no.49, National Drug Strategy, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra.

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Developing a Holistic and Specific Alcohol and Drug Program

There are six states, one federal government and 2 territories comprising Australia and each one has a set of laws concerning drug and alcohol testing.  In general, the laws require the duty holder, the employer, to “…provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.”1 The laws generally depend on defining general duty requirements and performance standards in which goals are set, and it’s up to the employer to develop the policies and procedures that enable the business to meet those goals.

As far as workplace drug testing and alcohol testing is concerned, the actual specification standards are established by Standards Australia, and onsite testing equipment like the Oraline Saliva test are designed to measure in a way that results can be compared to standards. Yet it’s a long way from developing specific drug and alcohol policy and procedures to actual drug testing.

Each organisation is unique and that means the drug and alcohol testing program should be unique. What constitutes risks to health and safety in one organisation is different from what constitutes risks in a different one. Organisations are structured and managed differently too. Some employers have one location and can establish a single set of procedures.  A mining or aviation company, on the other hand, will have employees in many locations working in unique settings.

The impairment risks can also vary significantly within an organisation. The trade unions which have had a major influence in the setting of national and state policies, point out that impairment risks can contribute to alcohol and drug use and so employers need to establish a comprehensive health and safety policy. It is their belief that focusing primarily on drugs and alcohol has resulted in employer inattention to issues like fatigue, stress, noise and so on.2

When Mediscreen at http://mediscreen.net.au/index.php?mod=about works with an employer to create an alcohol and drug testing program, the focus is on the whole workplace and not just individual issues. The alcohol and drug policy and procedures need to comfortably fit within an overall program designed to develop and maintain a safe working environment. This is the specificity needed to match the program to the employer’s unique qualities and employee needs.

In other words, the specific program needs to address much more than testing.3

  • Management needs to identify and consult with the appropriate groups for its business which may include the company workforce and employee representatives and other stakeholders
  • There should be a definitive policy on drug and alcohol consumption or tolerances (which may be zero) in the workplace
  • Identification of the specific testing program that will be utilised is necessary
  • Clear implementation and evaluation processes must be identified
  • Policy on program communication to employees must be established

The specific alcohol and drug policy and procedures should not be developed, implemented or monitored in a vacuum. They should be part of a holistic approach that is designed to promote overall workplace health and safety. That fits in with the union and national harm minimisation approaches in that the alcohol and drug program should not be punitive and reactive. It should be supportive and proactive and include some form of rehabilitation or employee assistance like giving an employee time to attend a drug rehab program while keeping the position available for return after successful completion.

References

1National Research Centre for OHS Regulation. (2011). About Occupational Health and Safety Regulation in Australia. Retrieved March 20, 2011, from National Research Centre for OHS Regulation: http://ohs.anu.edu.au/ohs/index.php

2Australian Drug Foundation – Victoria Department of Human Services. (2009, September). Prevention Research Quarterly – Prevention of Alcohol-Related Harm in the Workplace. Retrieved March 18, 2011, from Drug Info Clearinghouse: www.druginfo.adf.org.au

3Australian Safety and Compensation Council. (2007, March). Work-Related Alcohol and Drug Use – A Fit for Work Issue. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from SafeWork Australia: http://safeworkaustralia.gov.au/AboutSafeWorkAustralia/WhatWeDo/Publications/Documents/334/WorkRelatedAlcoholAndDrugUse_AFitForWorkIssue_2007_PDF.pdf

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Detecting Drugs in the Workplace that Justify Immediate Employee Testing

Employers have the complex job of developing and implementing a valid drug and alcohol testing program in the workplace. It’s complex because the program must meet the laws of the Commonwealth and of the state in which the employer is located, and the employer must exercise judgment on a case by case basis in terms of who to test, when to test, and what actions to take if the employee has positive test results. The employer must also decide when an employee should be tested outside of the normal blanket or random testing schedule due to impairment or obvious signs that alcohol or drugs are being used.

An effective testing program will include immediate drug and alcohol testing when there is reasonable cause. Called “for cause” testing, the purpose of the testing is not to punish the employee if impaired. The purpose is to protect the safety of the workplace including the employee and the employee’s coworkers.

The question is: What types of situations create reasonable cause for testing? What type of employee behaviors would justify a supervisor asking an employee to immediately take a Saliva Drug Test or to submit to an alcohol test by using the Lion SD 500 or to take a urine drug test? The situations can vary, of course, but following is a sample of the types of behaviors or incidents that fall under reasonable cause.

  • Supervisor observes the possession of illicit substances in the workplace
  • Employee is observed using illegal drugs
  • Employee is observed drinking alcohol
  • Work performance is erratic or abnormal
  • Employee is habitually late
  • Employee exhibits abusive, belligerent and/or aggressive behavior
  • Employee makes frequent errors in judgment
  • There is an accident or near accident that could have caused or did lead to injury or property damage
  • Employee cannot respond to supervisor instructions or makes odd responses
  • Employee has  difficulty speaking
  • Mood changes are frequent or employee withdraws and seems unable to communicate normally
  • Employee falls asleep on the job
  • Physical signs of drug or alcohol use such as bloodshot eyes, excessively small or large pupils, tremors, needle marks or inability to maintain balance
  • Employee smells like alcohol or marijuana

There are three points to make about this list. First is the fact that it’s not complete because there is no way to list every possible indication that an employee is using drugs or alcohol. The circumstances will vary of course depending on the type of position, the workplace location and the employee. Second, signs of impairment may indicate illicit drug or alcohol use but the supervisor should not accuse the employee because the truth may be the employee is sick, under extreme stress, has a disability, or is using prescribed medications.1 It is not the employer’s responsibility to diagnose an employee’s health condition. Third, the supervisor must clearly document the facts, events, circumstances, behaviors and/or accident that serve as reasonable cause for drug or alcohol testing.

Workplace drug and alcohol testing should occur when:2

  1. An employee’s impairment due to drugs or alcohol creates a safety risk
  2. There is reasonable cause to believe impairment exists
  3. The drug testing equipment is capable of identifying the presence of drugs so that the readings can be measured against standards

It’s crucial to use quality workplace alcohol and drug test equipment when immediate testing is called for. CMM Technology at http://cmm.com.au/index.php offers a range of products that can give the employer reliable first test results.

References

1Geraldton Port Authority. (2009, April). HSE Policies & Procedures – 2.16 Drug and Alcohol Procedure. Retrieved March 20, 2011, from Geraldton Port Authority: http://www.gpa.wa.gov.au/hseq_policies_and_procedures.aspx

2The Privacy Committee of New South Wales. (1992, October). Drug Testing in the Workplace. Retrieved February 25, 2011, from NSW Government Lawlink Justice & Attorney General: ww.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/…/drug%20testing%20complete…/drug%20testing%20complete.doc

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Which is More Important: A Strong Work Ethic or a Drug-Free Workplace?

A strong work ethic is nothing to sneeze at. Any employer finds him or herself wishing for a set of employees, all with strong, reliable work ethics, who enjoy their job time and who give it their best. However, this is not always the case, and employers may over look illegal or irresponsible behavior from staff members who, otherwise, have a strong will to work. Is this dangerous or does it not matter?

First, let’s examine the value of a love of work. Boas Shamir performed a study on the effects of work ethics upon unemployment. [1] The results were that employees with high work involvement retained much more dissatisfaction and contempt for their unemployment than employees scoring a low work involvement. After six months, employees who had a high work ethic were eager to return to a job, whereas employees with a low work ethic were more content to stay unemployed. This study has interesting implications on the effect of individual fortitude on the entire economy of a country. Clearly, this is no small matter.

However, work ethic is not everything. Workplace safety is also an important issue. Another study cites research on the effects of a drug-free working environment upon job injuries. [2] The results state that the drug-free environment facilitated safety to a noticeable degree. Which is more important? Management satisfaction or employee perception? While both issues are important, the issue of staff safety is not only a moral one, but also a statement of productivity.

A third study effectively ties everything together. Michelle Kaminski tested how productivity and on-the-job injuries were correlated. [3] Higher productivity was directly associated with lower number of injuries, and low productivity was the result of organizational practices which increased the number of injuries. Safety is the deciding factor, and management should consider taking a stand concerning any employee who abuses alcohol or drugs on or near the jobsite. In this case, they are not employing a proper work ethic, but are refusing to take their job as seriously as is appropriate.

Although an excellent, enthusiastic employee may be a sight for sore eyes on your jobsite, remember that a drug and alcohol free workplace is even more important. Hold employees accountable for their behavior and get them tested for substance abuse today. CMM Technology has the best quality testing equipment available. Contact CMM Technology today: +618-9204-2500.

1. “Protestant work ethic, work involvement and the psychological impact of unemployment .” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/job.4030070105/abstract.

2. “Do Drug‐Free Workplace Programs Prevent Occupational Injuries? Evidence from Washington State .” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-6773.2004.00217.x/full.

3. “Unintended Consequences: Organizational Practices and Their Impact on Workplace Safety and Productivity.” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology . N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WYT-46FN5GF-4&_user=10&_coverDate=04%2F30%2F2001&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=gateway&_origin=gateway&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1713101657&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=3cf24e742342bb67531bea5b37925bbc&searchtype=a.

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The Work Environment: How to Hold Your Employees Accountable

Holding your employees accountable for their actions may seem reasonable, controlling or “being mean” in your opinion. The difference between these three realities is the manner in which you establish this accountability. Understand that you have a responsibility to your company, your staff and yourself to maintain good, proper, positive working environments, using proper employee management techniques and policies, such as drug and alcohol testing.

What are the differences between positive and negative working environments? Don’t the employees choose to make it a positive or unproductive place of work? Management is in charge of the atmosphere, whether it is one of fear and coercion or one of acceptance and creativity. Unfortunately, correct business practices are also associated with overly-demanding, rigid power structures. In other words, an “us-against-them” attitude develops toward management.     

A study done on occupational stress describes how workplace fear and anxiety is increased when management does not take on a role of responsibility and accountability. [1] Stress factors include, but are not limited to, overcrowding, lack of autonomy, lack of privacy, a run-down appearance of the business, fear of personal safety, and excessive noise. Anything that denotes impoverishment, a mob or crowded environment, and unsafe working conditions are all reasons why employees would feel anxiety or stress on the job.

The same study also describes ways by which management can improve working conditions and lower employee stress level, thereby increasing personal accountability and responsibility among staff. Accountability is important for several reasons, including safety and productivity. Drug and alcohol testing is a part of increasing safety and understanding the responsibility levels of your employees. Rather than a “tactic” exerted by upper management, it is an integral part of keeping all of your hardworking employees safe, confident and productive.

Another study in Melbourne, Australia evaluated working conditions and demotivation among construction workers. [2] High-risk industries, such as construction, aviation, shipping and mining, are all recommended to receive regular drug and alcohol testing. The research from Melbourne describes how the stress and demotivation levels of workers increased during periods of long working hours, chaotic situations and aggressive management. Substance abuse testing would be ideal for reducing chaos and giving both management and workers a sense of stability.

It is up to management to decrease feelings of mistrust and doubt among their staff by creating a positive, employee-focused, open, safe job site. CMM Technology offers accurate, reliable drug and alcohol testing equipment. Contact us today: +618-9204-2500.

1. “Environmental design, work, and well being: managing occupational stress through changes in the workplace environment..” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7545995.

2. “The effect of the workplace on motivation and demotivation of construction professionals.” IngentaConnect. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2011. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/rcme/2000/00000018/00000007/art00012.

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