Accidents at the Workplace and Burden of Proof
If there has been an accident, the employer can request the employees who were involved, to undergo a Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace. The employer will have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the alcoholism or substance abuse led to the accident.
Much has been said and written about Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace. Many false assumptions too have been made. Some of these include:
- Non-standard devices will be used for Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace
- Devices will be tampered to make them more sensitive or in line with the policies of the employer
- Results of Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace may lead to victimisation of the staff who might have tested positive
- Accidents will be blamed on staff who tested positive at some point in time
- Results of Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace will be shared with insurance companies
- Insurance companies too will insist on Drug and Alcohol Testing before deciding on premiums
- Insurance companies may refuse compensation to employees who might have tested positive to alcohol or drugs at some point in time1
Let us begin by examining each of the above assumptions.
Hardware used in Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace
The hardware used in Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace depends on the methodology being used. There are breathalysers for detecting alcohol concentration in the breath of the person being examined, alcohol concentration in urine detection kit, alcohol concentration in blood detection and alcohol concentration in saliva detection kit.
Irrespective of which kit or device is used, National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) rules stipulate that any device that is used for Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace should be verified as fit-for-purpose. The verification must be undertaken by a laboratory accredited to AS 4633 or ISO/IEC 17025. Each device and methodology adopted will give identical results within the accepted margin of error. Therefore, the premise that non-standard devices will lead to inaccurate results or that they will be tampered with is false2.
Positive Test Results
Every positive test result from the Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace will need to be verified by doing a second test (usually at a clinical lab). If the same person tests positive on three or more occasions then that person will be asked to join a rehabilitation centre. Naturally, all expenses will have to be borne by the concerned staff member. Only when attempts to rehabilitate the staff member fail then only the employer can move for termination of services3.
Policy guidelines for Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace prohibit the employer from sharing the results with anyone other than the concerned staff member, the staff member’s family and a court of law or law enforcement authorities4.
At present, it would be illegal for any insurance company to specifically request for Drug and Alcohol Testing. However, depending on the type of policy being sold and the age of the client, the insurance company is fully within its rights to request for a medical examination.
Drug and alcohol testing affects all types of business and organisations. Consider drug and alcohol testing at your workplace. Contact CMM Technology for more information 618 9204 2500
1. Privacy and other issues re: Drug and Alcohol Testing: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:hYeXwD4K4-0J:www.ilo.org/wow/PlanetWork/lang–en/WCMS_082253/index.htm+how+is+alcohol+testing+at+the+workplace+done&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=in
3. South Australian Policy: http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/contentPages/docs/resDrugAlcoholGuidelines.pdf
4. U.S. (Minnesota) Policy on Drug and Alcohol Testing at the Workplace: http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:5c8m_GadRTwJ:www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/dgaltest.pdf+how+is+alcohol+testing+at+the+workplace+done&hl=en&gl=in&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgBUi7tZupbTqIts2s4nwKhZUdGjAAjXQUIPEwnlaJpTRgB5auFctPsJm_DR0_SL-kaMgc1EFzHFwMVSCkCSdNtPXGLwUDA5320zx-hHDBM9qTqGrYkwo4rov7QS3HE1dXs7LNv&sig=AHIEtbRe2YiEIrevQfFSaOJYh_QyZ2A_sA