Drug & Alcohol Policy is Corporate Social Responsibility in Action

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is a leader in establishing “…higher standards of safety…” and in actively engaging and interacting Urine Drug Testwith the “…wide aviation community…” The organisation has three goals that include establishing “comprehensive, consistent and effective regulation to enhance aviation safety,” good governance, and effective relationships with the aviation community. CASA also hires a number of safety-critical personnel and developed a strategy that focuses on ensuring the workforce understands its obligations and accountability.1 Social responsibility is a comprehensive concept that addresses organizational responsibility to all of its stakeholders. Many activities are associated with social responsibility, including charitable contributions, reducing environmental impacts, and maintaining a substance free workplace.

Developing drug and alcohol policies and procedures and implementing a random alcohol and drug testing process are two of many strategies that contribute to exercising social responsibility. The employer has a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of workers, and to ensure that the workers are as productive as possible and producing quality products and services. However, corporate social responsibility is about a lot more than just how people act while at work. It is a principle that should be embedded in the business culture, brand, reputation, and even human rights.

Respecting Human Rights in Many Ways

The Australian Human Rights Commission outlines the everyday best practices in a business that respects the human rights of workers and the communities in which the business operates. The Commission’s Fact Sheet 3 explains the best practices for Human Rights as a component of the larger social responsibility principle in the extractive industry.2 Human Rights have several areas of concern where risks are created when the rights are not protected. One of those areas is under labour practices. The Commission writes, Extractive companies, like all other employers, have a responsibility to make sure that employees enjoy fundamental labour rights like a safe workplace, a living wage, non-discriminatory work practices, and collective bargaining.”2 The workplace drug and alcohol policy and procedures address two of the four areas mentioned – safe workplace and non-discriminatory work practices.

Australian employers know they have a duty of care to maintain a safe environment. It is a corporate responsibility and a social responsibility, and an important step in the process is keeping drugs and alcohol out of the workplace. However, a zero tolerance policy is usually not thought of as a human rights responsibility, though it should be.

In addition, the random drug and alcohol testing program supports the non-discriminatory work practices responsibility. The program is designed to randomly test employees without regard for their gender, race, or age. The testing of safety-sensitive workers outside the random testing is also non-discriminatory because the testing is based on job responsibilities and not on any personal characteristics. The procedures protect workplace safety which means they protect the safety of co-workers, yet another Human Rights issue.

Matter of Dignity, Respect, Security and Health

The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed additional fact sheets for the finance, retail and manufacturing sectors. The Commission defines Human Rights as “…promoting and protecting the values of respect, dignity and equality for every person…” Included on the list of things businesses can most impact are the right to life and security of the person and the right to health. The drug and alcohol policy goes right to the heart of these Human Rights factors. It is a business best practice meant to keep workers secure and to help them stay healthy. CASA is just one example of an exemplary Australian organisation that understands the connection between Human Rights, social responsibility, and a substance free workplace. There are many in Australia, and every business needs to join the effort to protect the health and safety of their workers.

Businesses have a social responsibility and managing a quality alcohol and drug testing program is one way they meet that responsibility. CMM (cmm.com.au) can play an instrumental role in helping employers administer a quality program by providing high-tech supplies and equipment that make drug and alcohol testing safe and accurate.

Resources

1 CASA. (2012). Corporate Plan 2012-13 to 2014-15. Retrieved from Civil Aviation Safety Authority: http://bit.ly/19eOTLH

2 Good practice, good business: Fact Sheet 3 – The Australian mining and resource sector and human rights. (2013). Retrieved from The Australian Human Rights Commission: http://bit.ly/1fpaT4Z

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