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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