Does Random Alcohol and Drug Testing Really Work?

In 2010, the Tasmanian Coroner made a recommendation that all trucking companies add random drug testing to their alcohol and drug testing programs. The recommendation was made after a 27-year old truck driver lost control of his truck and post mortem testing showed he had consumed toxic levels of ecstasy. The trucker’s union spokesman backed the coroner’s call for random drug testing to minimise the occurrences of needless loss of life.1

Random alcohol and drug testing is a practice that Australian employers are incorporating more frequently into their testing programs.  Though some companies use only random testing, a better approach is to use either:

  1. Blanket testing done randomly or
  2. Blanket and random testing

The question is whether blanket testing alone is adequate or whether random testing is needed and especially in safety sensitive positions. To answer this question, refer back to the Tasmanian truck driver death. The federal and state law requires alcohol and drug testing, so the truck driver would have been testing for substance abuse at some time during the year. Yet he had toxic levels of ecstasy in his system at the time of his accident. Would random drug testing have prevented this tragedy?

It is much more likely it could have, if a random testing program was in place, and that is precisely why the coroner made the recommendation. Random testing may:2

  • Inhibit alcohol and drug use
  • Serve as a deterrent due to the possible consequences of positive results
  • Prevents use rather than finding fault after use thus significantly improving safety in the workplace
  • Serve as legal proof that the employer is doing everything reasonably possible to fulfil duty of care responsibility for harm prevention

Random testing also has been “…recognised as reasonable to avoid risk of subjective selection of employees…”2 This is a critical point because employers need to avoid any appearance that alcohol and drug testing is being used for purposes other than protecting workplace safety. For example, testing should never be used as a means of forcing employees to quit through intimidation.

It is for this reason that even employers who utilise blanket testing should also include a random testing feature in their testing program. For example, an employer would test all employees in the organisation, but people or departments would be drawn randomly at testing time. This procedure not only gives the testing program a solid legal basis by preventing bias, but it can improve program effectiveness. If employees never know when they will be tested, they are less likely to attempt to manipulate results by stopping drug use only for the days ahead of testing with drug use resuming once testing is completed.

In a 2009 case, a dispute arose between an employer and an Australian Workers’ Union concerning the extension of the employer’s alcohol and drug testing program to a refinery worksite. The company representatives wanted to implement:3

  • Companywide Fitness for Work program
  • Consistent companywide drug and alcohol policy
  • “For cause” drug and alcohol testing
  • Saliva and breathalyser testing
  • Random testing as a deterrent to substance use
  • Companywide disciplinary policy to cover employees testing positive

The company identified the specific groups of employees who would be subjected to testing and “…indicated that the number of random tests would result in around 50% of all individuals at each Safety Critical Site being tested in on year.”3 The judge hearing the case agreed that random testing is justified as a deterrent even if there had been no accidents to date at the refinery. Random drug testing falls within the duty of care provision of the law and enables the employer to exercise the greatest means of obviating risk. The court went on to explain that the drug program must be implemented in conjunction with an employee education program while continuing to work with the unions.

Portable and non-intrusive products like the Lion SD 500 and the DrugWipe 5+ make a random drug testing program quick and easy to implement. CMM Technology at http://cmm.com.au/index.php offers a range of products suitable for use at every type of employer location.

Does random alcohol and drug testing work? The courts seem to believe so and on multiple levels. Implemented correctly, random testing is more likely to identify employees presenting safety risks due to substance abuse and also acts as a deterrent.

References

1ABC News. (2010, February 25). Truckies Back Random Drug Tests. Retrieved May 20, 2011, from ABC News – Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/25/2829532.htm

2Goodwin, E. (2006). Testing Times – drugs, alcohol and the workplace. Law Institute Journal , 80 (12), 42.

3Decision in case of Caltex Australia Limited v Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, the Sydney-Branch; The Australian Workers’ Union, B2009/10326 (Fair Work Australia Application to Deal with Bargaining Dispute October 19, 2009).

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Road Trauma and Substance Abuse…A Case for Drug Testing

Alcohol and driving don’t mix. Anyone who is paying attention to the government news reports and public service messages knows that. The 2001 National Drug Strategy Household Survey estimated that one-third of driver and pedestrian deaths are connected to alcohol. Alcohol is also associated with up to 11% of workplace injuries or impaired work performance, absenteeism and productivity.1

Now combine the abuse of alcohol and drugs and the picture is even grimmer. A special presentation to the Parliament of Australia House of Representatives on road trauma over a 10-year period reports that in addition to the one-third of road deaths attributed to alcohol, another 8 percent were due to the use of drugs. The most common drugs found in drivers who are killed in road accidents are benzodiazepines, amphetamines and cannabis. The risk of a fatal accident increases by 2.7 times with marijuana use and 2.3 times with use of stimulants.2

As an employer, do you want to hand the keys to a business owned vehicle to an employee under the influence of alcohol and drugs? Obviously the answer is a resounding “no”, and yet it happens.  Alcohol, marijuana, stimulants and other drugs impair:

  • Motor functions like hand-eye coordination
  • Time perception
  • Space perception
  • Mental awareness of surrounding events
  • Cognition or the ability to transform visual signals into thoughts or actions

There were a couple of very interesting results that were reported to Parliament that have implications for employers concerned with worker safety on Australian roads. The first surprise was that 73.5 percent of drivers arrested for traffic offences in the study did not  believe they would be caught driving under the influence whilst using marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine or heroin, yet 89 percent surveyed knew that alcohol increased their chances of getting caught.2

People are less aware of the consequences of drug use, as opposed to alcohol use, on driving ability. The implications for employers is clearly that alcohol and testing programs are essential for worker safety and should include employees operating outside of the regular workplace as well as inside. Another important implication is that the supervisor and employee training programs should incorporate information concerning the negative impact of alcohol and drug use on the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle of any kind.

It is unfortunate that society has focused primarily on alcohol and neglected to address drug use though that is rapidly changing. Anti-alcohol public campaigns have raised awareness of the dangers of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. Yet a more recent study on drugs and driving in Australia commissioned by the Australia Drug Foundation and the national insurer AAMI indicated that people are still not aware of the dangers of driving whilst using illicit or prescription drugs. One of the findings was that most people had no idea how long they should wait between using a drug that can impact motor and cognitive skills and driving.3

Random drug testing by the police has proven to be an effective countermeasure against driving under the influence of alcohol. It is now being used to deter driving whilst under the influence of drugs also. A survey indicated that the risk of being caught was a significant deterrent to drug driving. As many as 38.5 percent of cannabis users chose to not drive out of worry of being caught. The numbers were 45.4 percent of methamphetamine users and 41.5 percent of those who chose to use ecstasy.3

Employers also need to use random alcohol and drug testing for the same reasons the police are using them. Employers can use products like the DrugWipe 5+ in the workplace or the Oraline Saliva test and detect use of marijuana, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy…all known to impair driving ability. When coupled with alcohol testing using the Lion Alcoblow, you can hand the keys to a company vehicle to an employee knowing you have done everything you can to keep the employee and other road users safe.

CMM Technology at http://www.cmm.com.au/ has quality alcohol and testing equipment that can play an important role in an employer’s efforts to minimise the number of road accidents and fatalities due to substance abuse. An alcohol and drug employee information program should be coupled with blanket and random testing for maximum results.

References

1Australian Drug Foundation. (2007). Drugs and Driving in Australia – a brief report. Victoria: Australian Drug Foundation.

2NSW Government. (2003). NSW Summit on Alcohol Abuse 2003. Sydney: December.

3Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. (2003). Road to Recovery. Canberra: Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.

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Shifting Rhythms

Fatigue, Drugs and Alcohol

Did you know that even one night of sleep deprivation can impair performance as much as having a blood alcohol reading equal to .05% .[1]

In real terms, how do we address this, and what does it really mean for Australian business and industry?

The Circadian rhythms of sleep and waking are essential for ongoing health and vitality. They are also essential for ongoing productivity, profits and health and vitality of a workforce. When Circadian Rhythms are disrupted either through fatigue or drugs and alcohol, the consequences for industry can be pronounced. An adequate approach to duty and fitness will address the interaction of these issues and must view these as inextricably linked in with each other.

Figure 1.Schematic model of the three interactive factors determining shift work strain.[2]

CMM Technology understands the potential effects and cross-currenting of fatigue and drugs and alcohol, particularly in industries where shift work is a fact of life. As Baker et al state; “when fatigue and AOD link in together, health, safety and productivity are compromised and the consequences can extend beyond the immediate work place, into the community and the wider environment.”[3] CMM Technology is able to tailor consulting and testing services that approach Fitness For Work in a holistic and progressive manner that effectively reduces such risks and increases safety and overall workplace wellbeing.

Pilots, shift workers and a proportion of the transport industry have often had to contend with the issue of circadian imbalance and– fairly or unfairly – have often been associated with stimulant use. Evidence indeed points to illicit stimulant use as a disruption to the body’s natural rhythms.[4] But in addition, other licit substances such as benzodiazepines – commonly used for short term circadian re-alignment, can be disruptive. Their long term use is often associated with impairing side-effects and with a “rebound phenomenon causing the original problem to return at an even higher level and intensity.”[5] This in turn exemplifies the complex nature of addressing Fitness For Work in a manner that integrates and understands all facets impacting the working population of a given business entity or industry.

To summarise, the compounding effects of fatigue and circadian dissociation, drugs and alcohol can lead to a deterioration of the psycho-physiological health and wellbeing of a work population. Adequately address these inter-related issues and develop a tailor-made Fitness For Work approach with the help of CMM Technology’s expert consultancy and testing services.  Telephone CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500

[1] Baker, A., Ferguson, S. Dawson, D. Fitness for Duty: Fatigue, Drugs and Alcohol. Produced by the Centre for Sleep Research 2002, Australia.

[2] Monk, T.H., Folkard, S. Making Shiftwork Tolerable. Burgess science Press, 1992, U.K.

[3] Baker, A., Ferguson, S. Dawson, D. Fitness for Duty: Fatigue, Drugs and Alcohol. Produced by the Centre for Sleep Research 2002, Australia.

[4]Uz, T.; Akhisaroglu, M.; Ahmed, R.; Manev, H. (December 2003). “The pineal gland is critical for circadian Period1 expression in the striatum and for circadian cocaine sensitization in mice”. Neuropsychopharmacology 28 (12): 2117–23. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300254. PMID 12865893.

[5] http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/circadian-rhythm-disorder-medications

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A Peak HR Approach

Drug Testing is now a feature of Australian working life, particularly in heavy industry sectors and areas where safety issues have the capacity to disrupt and cause disintegration to profit, workplace camaraderie and performance. Usually, the implementation of testing has been presented as an OHS issue which relates back to duty of care roles on the part of industry and organisation. But its implications are far wider, and a clever industry and a smart industry knows that the management of an outstanding substance testing program involves the use of high quality testing products coupled with an open and accessible dialogue with employees about the requirements of workplace testing. In short, a drug testing policy in the workplace IS compatible with a good HR policy and can be delivered when using the products and consultation input of CMM Technology.

In America, drug and alcohol testing has led to reduced levels of absenteeism and on the job accidents. Research indicates a correlation between the two.[1] Part and parcel of this American model is the implication that those who do not implement high quality programs are in fact lacking in the ongoing safety management of their work environment.[2]

At CMM Technology, the testing products used are of optimal quality, providing the greatest accuracy possible through sample testing. In addition, CMM Technology supports a policy approach that moves beyond simple legislative pressures and enforcements and invites open discussion about the implementation of any testing program so that issues of employee respect, management/employee relations, minimized intrusion, and the reasonable requirements of employees are part and parcel of the approach. This holistic approach is pivotal.

NSW’s RailCorp employs approximately 15,000 staff across the state and in 2005 implemented testing procedures after much energetic consultation with the Labour Council of NSW.  John Dawes, Project Manager for Health Standards for RailCorp in 2005 stated, “there is no prescriptive process in our policy if a person returns a positive result. Each case is investigated individually. And, of 23 who have tested positive since RBT started…six employees and five contractors have been dismissed.”[3] RailCorp has also incorporated rehabilitation and education programs as an accompanying part of its approach.

The use of high quality testing products such as those supplied and delivered by CMM Technology engenders the trust and faith of your workforce population. Additionally, the use of expert consultancy services that understand the complexity of balancing a testing approach with successful Human Resources management is the smartest way for business and industry to proceed.

Call CMM Technology on 618 9204 2500 for drug testing kits, equipment and expert advice


[1] Osterloh, J., Becker, C. Chemical Dependency and Drug Testing in the Workplace. Western Journal of Medicine, 152(2): 506-513. 1990

[2] Redeker, J. and  Segal, J. Profits Low? Your Employees May Be High! Personnel, 66(6): 72-77. 1989.

[3] Russell, Teresa. HR Leader. www.humanresoourcesmagazine.com.au/articles/69/Oc)1f369.asp

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The Usual Suspect

One of your workers is behaving erratically. Job performance and punctuality has decreased of late, and the worker’s behavior is unusual, withdrawn and on occasions aggressive. There have been whispers that this worker has been using amphetamines on and off the job, and it’s of increasing concern to management.

So…where to from here?

Good identification, intervention, education and rehabilitation strategies in a workplace will be undertaken in accordance with clear policy and procedures and will also be compassionate, realistic, objective and non-judgmental. According to The Youthsafe Organisation, intervention strategies should be developed from a foundation comprising the following attributes:

  • Training on D&A for supervisors including how to identify and manage intoxicated workers
  • Safety committee to complete training.
  • Drug and Alcohol component for compulsory induction training
  • Identified support person(s) to provide support, info, referrals etc confidentially.
  • Referral system to outside help.
  • Raising awareness of D&A issue and policy including support available (eg. posters, newsletters.)[1]

And in the case of identifying and managing an affected employee, clear guidelines and strategies need to be available, practicable and realistic. The following issues should be a part of your current OHS policies and procedures.

How to Identify an Individual affected by drugs or alcohol

Screen out other possible causes for unusual behavior, such as fatigue, stress, co-morbid conditions, diabetes (blood sugar irregularities) etc.  Have in place strategies that are able to differentiate between “the effects of a drug, alcohol, fatigue or other medical conditions.”[2]

Identification Criteria

Develop an identification criteria with input from, and due consultation with employees and workers, health and safety representatives, the management, unions where required or where it is appropriate to do so, and specialist drug and alcohol industry experts such as those from CMM Technology.

Where issues of conflict arise, seek solution through an agreed resolution or arbitration procedure or body.

Identify the “Identifier”

Be absolutely sure your policy outlines a chain of command in terms of WHO will identify the individual suspected of AOD use. Be sure this is devised in consultation with employees, health and safety workers, management and specialists who understand the need for impartiality, objectivity and a non-confrontational approach.

Possible options may include:

  • A supervisor or senior manager
  • A co-worker or a fellow employee

The holder of a position clearly stipulated in the OHS policy and the drug and alcohol procedures/policy. (Senior manager, workplace health and safety officer etc.) ”[3]

Train Staff to understand signs and symptoms of AOD use in an individual

Where necessary, outsource to experts who have a comprehensive understanding of drug and alcohol signs and symptoms and who can educate supervisors and managers on possible indicators.

Encourage Self-Assessment

Encourage employees to refrain from duty if they have consumed drugs and alcohol in such a manner or quantity that safety and performance are compromises. This should be clearly outlined in policy.[4]

Implement a comprehensive testing approach

Develop and implement a multifaceted testing approach that encompasses a number of testing processes. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland suggests the following:

  • Voluntary self-testing – providing facilities for a worker to self-test at the workplace;
  • Random testing – any worker or a select group of workers may be tested on a random day;
  • Upon reasonable belief– a worker who shows signs of being affected by alcohol and/or drugs should be considered for testing. When a worker is suspected of being affected at work primary consideration must be given to the safety of the individual and of others;
  • Testing after a workplace health and safety incident – a worker may be required to submit to an alcohol and/or other drugs test if they are involved in an incident. [5]

CMM Technology is able to guide you in relation to testing procedures and products. Their friendly and expert staff can offer you advice on suitable testing products for your business as well as procedures that are tailored to your workplace needs, culture and environment.

Call CMM Technology on 08 92042500.


[1] http://www.youthsafe.org/images/initiatives/workplace_safety_final_report.pdf

[2] http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/resources/pdfs/alcohol-drug-management.pdf

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of Justice and Attorney-General Framework for alcohol and drug management in the workplace

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Perfecting Policy – Implications for your Workplace

In 1992, The National Campaign Against Drug Abuse released profoundly important statistical evidence revealing a relationship between the top 600 companies in Australia and the existence of some form of workplace restriction on alcohol use. The study, conducted by Richmond, Heather, Holt and Hu, revealed either formal or informal limitations had been implemented and applied in the workplace in relation to alcohol and substance, and pointed the way forward for more sophisticated policy approaches to AOD (alcohol and other drug)  in the work environment. [1]

CMM Technology has long been aware of the need for comprehensive and thorough AOD policies in business and industry in both public and private sectors and has developed expert consultancy services that aim to deliver the very best policy and procedures packages, Australia-wide.

Initially, AOD policy was developed in accord with a singular “problem drinker” or “deviance model” approach. As research and interest in the area has developed in the late 20th and early 21st Century, the need for policy that moves beyond the regular problem drinker, to policy that actually encompasses a wider sweep of all employees and workers has been deemed more efficacious. As Pidd and Berry et al stress in their Australian Institute of Health and Welfare paper, “what is in fact required is greater attention to the ordinary worker, at all levels throughout a given workplace. It is the ordinary Australian worker, who drinks in a typically Australian way (i.e. with occasional bouts of risky drinking) who warrants greater attention and prevention effort.”[2]

Such a primary prevention approach incorporates a multi-faceted model that moves beyond the problem drinker or drug user and focuses on workplace culture, norms and values and community backdrop to the business or industry. As Kreitman has noted, the highest risk to workplace safety because they are more numerous, is the group comprising “infrequent heavy drinkers” – run of the mill individuals like you and me, who up until recently had been overlooked in the development of AOD policy approaches.[3]

CMM Technology offers consultancy services that accord with this model approach to AOD policy development. Incorporating consultancy services and across the board drug-screening facilities that are tailored to your business needs, CMM Technology can help you modernise your AOD procedures in accord with the prevailing Australian business and cultural backdrop and research. Phone CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500.


[1] Richmond R, Heather N, Holt P & Hu W 1992. Workplace policies and programs for

tobacco, alcohol and other drugs in Australia. Canberra: National Campaign Against

Drug Abuse, Monograph Series No.24.

[2] Pidd, K, Berry JG, Harrison JE, Roche AM, Driscoll TR, Newson RS. 2006. Alcohol and

work: patterns of use, workplace culture and safety. Injury Research and Statistics Series

Number  28. (AIHW cat no. INJCAT 82) Adelaide: AIHW

[3] Kreitman N 1986. Alcohol consumption and the preventive paradox. British Journal of

Addiction 81 (3):353–63.

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On the Road Again…

Roadside saliva drug testing is now a key feature of traffic policing in virtually all jurisdictions in Australia. And road fatalities and injuries are a feature of Australian life. Our expansive island continent is criss-crossed with desert roads and highways, riparian lanes and inner city expressways. From the rough rocks of the Tanami Track, to the tarred bitumen of the cities, roads and road transport is a feature of work life, heavy industry, recreation, and economics. They lie at the heart of our financial and business security.

And safety on our roads is of course, of the essence. The recent research into roadside drug-testing has gradually been adopted in practice, by all police jurisdictions except for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. In the various states, small vehicle drivers can be subject to random saliva testing, along with heavy vehicle drivers. In the case of The Northern Territory, drug testing was implemented in a limited capacity in 2008, with random saliva-testing for prohibited drugs being used in the case of drivers of all heavy-vehicles of 4.5tonnes gross vehicle mass, or over. [1]

Roadside drug testing tends to focus on a few central illicit substances:

  • THC—the active ingredient in cannabis
  • Methylamphetamine—also known as speed and ice
  • MDMA—the active ingredient in ecstasy.

While many testing kits focus on these three drugs, CMM Technology offers saliva testing products that also detect opiates and cocaine. Its three convenient saliva testing units, The Securetec Drugwipe 5+, The iScreen Saliva Drug Test and The Oraline® Saliva Drug Test are renowned for their ease of use, convenience and accuracy. Particularly cost-effective, the simple application of The Oraline® Saliva Drug Test has been used on the Australian market for many years and “can be completed almost anywhere, anytime. It is ideal for pre-screening at remote sites, workplace, roadside or office and will detect the recent use of Marijuana for up to 8 hours after use.”[2]

Roadside drug testing is an essential feature of jurisdictional policing of our roads, nationally. It is accurate, safe and far less intrusive and easy to use than other testing procedures out in the field and allows our police forces to conduct their drug testing in conjunction with their RBT’s. And what is particularly beneficial is the deterrent effect this system has on the driving population. The ROSITA-2 Study, states in its concluding findings, that “the experience in the state of Victoria in Australia shows that random roadside oral fluid testing of drivers for methamphetamine and cannabis has a deterrent effect.”[3]

If you require high quality saliva drug-testing units that are reliable, efficient and cost-effective, telephone CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500.


[1] Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations. http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/Programs/REDI/ecstasydrugs/infodrugs/consequencesuse/Pages/driving.aspx

[2] CMM Technology: http://cmm.com.au/drug-alcohol-testing-saliva-drug-testing-oraline-saliva-drug-test-p-87.html?cPath=43_50

[3] Rosita-2 Project Final Report. Editors:Verstraete, Alain G., Raes, Elke. Department of Clinical Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, Ghent University. Belgium.

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The Plane Truth: Interview with a commercial passenger pilot

CMM Technology has recently conducted an absorbing interview with a commercial passenger pilot, focusing on safety and drug and alcohol approaches in the aviation industry.

CMM Technology:  Welcome to CMM, Richard. Can you let us know how long you have been flying and your current credentials?

Richard*: I’ve been flying for about 15 years now and do mainly long haul passenger flights across the globe. It’s great work. I love it. Enjoyably demanding with real moral and ethical responsibilities.

CMM Technology: What do you mean by ethical and moral responsibilities?

Richard: I suppose what I am referring relates mainly to the welfare and safety of passengers and all on board. We do an incredible amount of training and the wellbeing of passengers is paramount.

CMM Technology: In view of passenger safety, how do you feel about mandatory drug and alcohol testing and workplace culture issues in relation to pilots, alcohol and substances?

Richard: I feel fine about it. It’s essential. CASA launched the Australia’s State Aviation Safety Program in January this year[1] It includes the regulation of drug and alcohol management plans and testing. And quite frankly, if you choose to be a pilot, compliance with any testing procedures- mandatory or voluntary is paramount. Look, the reality is we are transporting people – families, children, mothers, fathers, grandfather and grandmothers. Human beings. It’s our ethical duty to undertake testing and to remain stringent about guidelines on safety and legislative policies and procedures on alcohol and drugs. We had a major review in 2004[2] after the 2002 Hamilton Island incident – and then that was followed up with the mandatory testing procedures in 2008[3] for safety sensitive personnel. And really, when you look at it, drugs and alcohol have played a part in some fairly serious incidents over the years. There’s the Exxon Valdez oil spill in ’89, our own Hamilton Island crash, and a stream of incidents in the U.S.

Scientific evidence points to cognitive functioning and psychomotor efficacy reductions because of drugs and alcohol, and that is something that is an absolute no-go in our profession. We need to monitor pilot use and misuse, because the effects compromise our safety standards. Misuse and abuse kills. It’s about lives.

CMM Technology: What is your view on the distinction between “under the influence” and “impairment” in relation to pilot use of alcohol and other substances?

Richard: My personal and professional view is we need zero-tolerance in respect of both. Look, “impairment” is a subjective terminology and can be difficult to gauge, to note and to prove. But we can do it. We already have pilot self-monitoring sheets as part of our approach and that’s great. I suppose we also have to ask, “What constitutes impairment?  A hangover…fatigue due to a bit of a binge a couple of nights before?”  You know…how do we accurately identify impairment?  I suppose I am such a supporter of mandatory testing for that very reason. It is the base-level starting point from which we need to build a safe and secure and ethical professional approach to alcohol and flying.  There is of course, the possibility of a pilot being impaired (due to a hangover and fatigue from past drinking,) while still registering as ok on the breathalyzer. But the use of that breathalyser is a practical and scientific and also a psychological starting point. It communicates a new kind of model for pilots – a professional and a personal/psychological benchmark within an industry with a subtext that shouts loud and clear “WE DON’T COMPROMISE SAFETY.”  We need to have testing and we need to keep a check on an industry’s drinking culture. Testing does that.

And that is what is needed.

CMM Technology: Richard, thank you so much for your views and your time.

Richard:  No problem. It’s a pleasure.

*(Pilot identity has been protected with use of pseudonym.)

Our specialists are available for you to talk with about all your testing needs.

Phone CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500


[1] www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/safety/ssp/index.aspx

[2] Aviation safety Investigation Report

[3] Federal Register of Legislative Instruments F2008L04586. Instrument number Civil Aviation AOD 2008/2

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Objectivity – a Key Testing Requirement

It is a well known fact a correlation exists between inappropriate alcohol and other drug usage, and stress and anxiety. In today’s modern world stress is a fact of life, and managing it appropriately in the workplace must be considered as a priority. But how do we manage this issue with the kind of objectivity that is required by both the paid workforce and by management?

In 2010, The Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI) discovered “the majority of workers say they are frequently (often or almost always) rushed and pressed for time. Two-thirds of full-time women, and half of full-time men, and more than half of part-time women and a third of part time men lay claim to these statistics.”[1] But in relation to shift work and the mining industry, and the accompanying stresses due to family dislocation and week on/week off rostering, this “rush effect’ and consequent AOD issues may be even greater than that of the general workforce population What then, are the implications for productivity, health and ongoing work satisfaction of employees and that work environment?

One of the key recommendations of the AWALI survey was the need for “managers, educators and governments to consider giving much greater attention to the promulgation of models of good practice in relation to work-life friendly practices and the development and use of reliable metrics to measure the effects of changes in policy and practice.”[2] These models of practice need to be CREDIBLE and RELIABLE, and also need to adhere to objectivity in an effort to balance out potential conflicts or disharmonies between employers and employees.

And as part of this approach, it may well be the case that recent changes in policy and/or practice in Australia in relation to independently executed drug and alcohol workplace testing augurs well for future health of employees. In Fitness for Duty in the Mining Industry -A Legal Perspective, Bilal and Elgar state that use of appropriate testing methods can form part of a healthy fitness for work program:

  • Employers should ensure any testing procedures for drugs and alcohol, adopted in a program are CREDIBLE and RELIABLE. Consider the use of EXTERNAL PROVIDERS, as they are more likely to be seen as conducting their work at arm’s length from the employer.[3]

CMM Technology provides credible, thorough and reliable workplace testing. As an external provider, CMM is able to ensure the degree of independence and objectivity that is required in order to maintain healthy workplace relations between management and employees on site and on the ground in the day to day operations of an industry or business.

For reliable and credible testing procedures, telephone CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500.


[1] Professor Barbara Pocock,  Natalie Skinner and Sandra Pisaniello. How much should we work: Working hours, holidays and working life: the participation challenge. The Australian Work and Life Index 2010.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Bilal and Elgar, Senior Associates, Blake, Dawson, Waldron. Fitness for Duty in the Mining Industry – A Legal Perspective.

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Kicking Goals with Testing

When it comes to drug testing and anti-doping, we all want a fair and level playing field. Drug-testing in the sporting arena has become more sophisticated in recent years.  And Australia has played a major part in this process. In 1999, just prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the world athletic community set up WADA (the World Anti Doping Agency) as an urgent response to drugs in sport.

The Australian Olympic Committee, responsible for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, had repeatedly pushed for a clean Australian Olympics. And partly in response to this, the International Olympic Committee took initiative, setting up the First World Conference on Doping in Sport in Lausanne in February 1999. A major proposal of the Conference was the need for a unified and global approach to drugs in sport.

On November 10, 1999 The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was born.

WADA ‘s impact on doping in sport and the need for stringent drug testing has been pronounced.  Its Current President, Australian John Fahey, outlines its vision; “WADA was founded on the principles that athletes have a fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport and that doping endangers athlete health and the integrity of sport.[1]”

In addition it can be argued the general public also has a fundamental right to demand a high degree of integrity and honesty of their professional athletes when it comes to doping, drugs, performance and testing. This is particularly true in Australia, where sport is a national pastime.  In real terms, the issue of drugs in sport moves beyond the players and the playing fields, and extends into the wider community in terms of impact, integrity and cultural values. The recent exploits of professional players such as Ben Cousens, Brendan Fevola and the drug scandal that threatened to derail The Newcastle Knights Rugby League team stand as stern reminders of the extent of the problem. [2]

Australia’s national sports drug testing body ASADA (Australian Sport Anti Doping Authority) has in recent times, continued to push the charge for drug free sport on the national and international arena. On March 10 2011, The Minister for Sport, Senator Mark Arbib stated “there is increasing evidence that doping and drugs in sport is becoming more sophisticated and widespread and remains a real threat to the integrity of fair play everywhere.”  He pointed to ASADA’s excellent attempts to keep abreast of testing and monitoring of players on an ongoing basis. Thorough and regular testing is the key… as ASADA’s Anne Gripper has maintained in the past; “One of the things that we hear continually from our Australian athletes is that they know they’re tested a lot, they know they’re subjected to a robust, comprehensive drug-testing program.” [3]

The recent ban of Surf Lifesaving Competitor Travis Sheehy as well as Hockey Player Sarah Jane Bennett are cases in point.

ASADA in fact implements their testing system through the ADAMS program which is a

doping control database that can be used both in- and out-of-competition. Stakeholders can use ADAMS to plan, coordinate, and order tests, as well as manage test results.

This program has similarities with CMM Technology’s Mediscreen approach to testing, which can be managed and co-ordinated off-site by testing specialists whose services are tailored to industry requirements.

For a quality, ethically based approach to testing phone CMM Technology on 08-9204-2522


[1] http://www.wada-ama.org/en/About-WADA/Presidents-Welcome-Message/

[2]http://www.foxsports.com.au/league/nrl-premiership/newcastle-knights-say-chris-houston-lied-over-involvement-in-drugs-scandal/story-fn2mcuj6-1225918527155

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/stories/s727871.htm

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In The Mix

Australia is the largest island continent on the planet with a coastal circumference of just under 60,000kms including our offshore islands.[1] Sea life, in an historical, recreational and a business sense is indelibly marked upon the country’s psyche, with population distribution concentrated along the coastal ribbon of the continent. In short, offshore waters, as well as onshore and inland waterways are a part of our way of life stretching back as far as indigenous transmigrations, The Cook Voyage and The First Fleet. Our economic, financial and recreational existence is closely aligned with shipping, water transport and water services and boating.

Since 1992, maritime accidents and fatalities have cost Australia over one billion dollars.[2] But what are the causes of these accidents and fatalities, and how can we continue to monitor and prevent them in the current millennium?

The popular perception of Junger’s “Perfect Storm”[3] or a heroic battle with the elements such as that depicted in “The Old Man and the Sea” is often woven into our idea about maritime experience and maritime accidents, and yet, the reality is starkly different. In Australia, “most maritime incidents occur in favourable environmental conditions…with 71% occurring in wind conditions classified as none to moderate and 77% occurring in calm to moderate seas.”  Structural boat problems – often thought to be an issue – do not even rate as a major issue and at most, account for only 2% of fatalities and from the period 1998 to 2004. [4]

In 2004, the Australian Maritime Safety Committee released troubling findings in relation to the part played by alcohol and drugs in our fatal maritime accidents. Alarmingly, as the study’s author, Professor Peter O’Connor gleaned, “the initial contributing factor in 74% of incidents was a human cause, and alcohol continues to exist as a key factor in these.”[5] The report went on to conclude that:

  • Alcohol continues to be the primary risk factor. Forty seven percent of vessel operators were positive for alcohol and 40% of those killed were positive for alcohol. Twenty two percent of those killed had a BAC in excess of 0.05 gm/100ml demonstrating that alcohol is as much a problem in boating deaths as it is in road deaths. Alcohol was the main factor explaining why people fall overboard.
  • The results indicate the needs for increased surveillance and control of alcohol and drug use among the boating public.

CMM Technology is able to assist with the accurate surveillance and control of AOD use in a maritime and sea setting. Call CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500.

[1] Australian Government Geoscience Website.

[2] National Assessment of Boating Fatalities in Australia 1999 – 2004. Prepared for the National Marine Safety Committee Inc. by Associate Professor  Dr. Peter O’Connor May 2008

[3] Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm. W.W. Norton and Company, Publishers 1997.

[4] National Assessment of Boating Fatalities in Australia 1999 – 2004. Prepared for the National Marine Safety Committee Inc. by Associate Professor  Dr. Peter O’Connor May 2008

[5] Ibid.

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Flying High

In 2006, Dr. David Newman delivered his seminal study of alcohol related accidents in Australia from the years 1975 to 2006.[1] While the number of alcohol related accidents was not as high as that recorded elsewhere, his executive summary clearly stated, where AOD’s were present, “the related accident and fatality rates were high.” He also maintained “The planned introduction of a mandatory drug and alcohol testing program into the Australian civil aviation industry will provide a more prescriptive approach to the issue of drug and alcohol use in pilots. Education and training also remain important elements of an overall approach to reducing the significant impact of drug and alcohol use on flight safety.”[2]

89% of drug and alcohol related incidents resulted in accidents. And 69% of these resulted in fatalities. [3]

One of the most concerning aviation accidents in recent times involving drugs and alcohol occurred in Northern Queensland in 2002. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s toxicology report on the pilot in that accident,  revealed the presence of alcohol, Panadeine (codeine) and THC in the blood– all of which may have been detected had testing been in operation at the time.[4] The pilot had only had seven hours sleep prior to flying, and had consumed the Panadeine and alcohol the night before departure.

In 2008, legislation was finally introduced to ensure drug-testing of all SSAA’s (Safety Sensitive Aviation Activities) in Australia. Pilots, baggage handlers, cabin crew, air traffic controllers and mechanics – in fact just about anyone working in and around aeroplanes, was finally made to undertake random testing as part of a DAMP or Drug and Alcohol Management Program in the aviation industry.[5] In its complete form, the CASA approach to drug and alcohol is broad-based and holistic and involves:

  • “pre-employment drug and alcohol screening for all safety sensitive personnel
  • drug and alcohol testing for pre-employment and accident and incident testing for safety sensitive personnel, and testing on the grounds of reasonable suspicion for the safety of all staff
  • an education program for all staff, on the impact of drugs and alcohol on personal health and work performance, and specified legislative training and testing requirements for safety sensitive personnel
  • authorized and trained senior personnel to administer key decision points contained within the program
  • a comprehensive intervention and return to work program.”[6]

All three modes of testing procedure – saliva, urine and breath testing – were approved with the view that each could form a component part of a successful drug and alcohol management program for members of the aviation industry.

Each of these testing methods is supplied to heavy industry by CMM Technology, whose high quality products accord with Australian Standards. Their products range from the Wall Mounted Alcolizer Breathalyser and the Wall Mounted Breathalyser BTA-30-DAS-1 through to more portable versions such as the Alcosense Precision Breathalyser and the Alert J5 Personal Breathalyser. More cost-effective saliva testing products such as the DrugWipe5+ and The Oraline Saliva Drug Test are also available. Accompanying Pre-Screening Forms and Intermediary Chain of Custody forms are also supplied by CMM Technology.

Contact CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500 for advice on testing products that suit your needs


[1] Newman, Dr D. G.  Accidents and Incidents Involving Alcohol and Drugs in Australian Civil Aviation 1 January 1975 to 31 March 2006. June 2006. Australian Safety Transport Bureau, Australian Government.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Jean, P. Pilot took alcohol and drugs before fatal crash. The Age Newspaper. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/03/18/1079199343514.html?from=storyrhs

5 Notice of Final Rule Making. Drug and Alcohol Management Plans and Testing. Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) Part 99. SEPT 2008.

[6] CASA Occupational Health and Safety.  http://www.casa.gov.au/scripts/nc.dll?WCMS:STANDARD:1701626212:pc=PC_93475#drugs

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