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 Job performance and punctuality has decreased of late, and the worker’s behavior is unusual, withdrawn and on occasions aggressive.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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