Can one really afford to resist the need for drug testing in the workplace? Is it feasible to place individual rights ahead of the safety of all, ahead of profits, ahead of a safe and secure approach to work practices, work culture and the need for on-site Fitness for Duty that are optimal in their concern for worker wellbeing and fiscal growth?
The Building and Construction industry in Australia has had some resistance to the use of on-site drug testing as a component of the safety measures implemented in a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy. However, in the USA, the use of testing is widespread and is supported by research studies that explain a correlation between onsite testing and a reduction in workplace injuries. The study, produced by Cornell University’s Jonathon Gerber and overseen by ILR Professor of Labour Economics, Robert S. Smith, sourced data from over 50 construction companies, with findings that accord with the view that drug and alcohol testing is in fact a safety and profit issue that is beneficial to all.
Titled “An Evaluation of Drug Testing in the Workplace: A Study of the Construction Industry” it showed companies that drug tested experienced the following:
- 51% reduction in injury
- Save substantially on workers compensation premiums (11.41%)
- Experienced a positive impact due to testing
- Better overall safety
- Improved quality of job applicants
- Improved company “brand”
Trevor Sharp, from The Building Trades Group Drug and Alcohol program identifies a number of key points that will help the Australian construction industry reduce the impact of alcohol and other drugs in the industry. Speaking as the Australian Government’s 2009 Alcohol and Other Drugs Forum, he presented a five point plan to help towards more responsible AOD approaches in construction and building in Australia. These included:
- Educating workers on site on self-responsibility for their own and work-mates’ AOD use
- Distribute information on available AOD treatment options for workers
- Raise awareness of health and safety issues related to AOD use
- Increase worker commitment to AOD safety
- The training of safety committee members, delegates on how to implement this plan and appropriate intervention when required.
While there is no doubt this approach is essential in the industry to ensure the consolidation of a cultural workplace shift away from alcohol and other drugs and towards a more responsible approach, the implementation of a testing program may also be efficacious in further ensuring change, increased safety and a reduction in cost outgoings associated with insurance, employer liability and compensation expenses.
CMM Technology supplies quality test products and technologies that can help with increased safety on-site and with a cultural shift away from excessive AOD use towards greater workplace responsibility and diligence. The company also views drug and alcohol workplace testing as an imperative and an essential in all Australian safety sensitive industries including transport, mining, other heavy industry and construction.
The testing program implemented by your workplace needs to be tailored to your needs and workplace requirements. Call CMM Technology and speak to a specialist who can help you choose the testing technologies best suited to your needs. CMM Technology +618 9204 2500
 Myers, L. Construction Company drug testing reduces work injuries, study finds. http://news.cornell.edu/chronicle/00/6.29.00/drug-testing.html
 AOD Forum Agenda 2009. http://fsc.gov.au/Resources/AZ/Documents/AOD_Forum_Agenda.rtf