What’s the cost?

Drugs and alcohol continue to pose a problem for heavy industry in Australia. The threat and cost to workplace continuity, health and safety, profit and performance is at the forefront of consideration in the development of Fitness for Duty, Duty of Care, OHS and AOD policies and approaches.  And a sound approach is one that understands the implicit dangers posed by AOD’s and develops procedures and preventative measures that can translate into a threat reduction and minimization.

An employer’s duty of care to workers and workplace safety is a pivotal component in any policy package. In NSW alone, the fiscal cost of a duty of care breach can result in significant profit loss and erode carefully developed workplace wellbeing and morale that has been built conscientiously, over time. Currently in that state, financial and other penalties for breaches and a failure to meet duty of care are:

  • in the case of a corporation (being a previous offender) – $825,000 or
  • in the case of a corporation (not being a previous offender) – $550,000 or
  • in the case of an individual (being a previous offender) – $82,500 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both or,
  • in the case of an individual (not being a previous offender) – $55,000 [1]

In the oft-cited case of Stokes v Guest, Keen and Nettlefold (Bolts and Nuts) Ltd (1968) the overall test for duty of care of the employer was stipulated as “positive thought for the safety of his workers in light of what he knows or ought to know…and where there is developing knowledge, he must reasonably keep abreast of it and not be too slow in applying it.” [2]

In the past decade in Australia, the issue of AOD use in the workplace has gained focus and momentum, and whilst many industries are now required to incorporate testing into their procedures and policies by way of legislative controls and restraints, there is still the ongoing requirement of employers to maintain awareness and keep abreast of current shifts and changes and developments in the area of substance abuse in the workplace.  This may include in-house training in relation to safe work practices, developed in consultation with employees and any OHS representatives on-site, dealing with unique characteristics of the work, and policies and procedures to monitor performance and to review control measures.[3] In view of this, it behoves industry to remain up to date and well informed in relation to current alcohol and drug practices within their industry, their site and the demographic comprising their workforce.

CMM Technology supports an approach that incorporates up to date information on latest shifts in drug practices within workplace subcultures and groupings. With thorough knowledge and awareness of the duty of care requirements of employers in many types of heavy industry in Australia, it supports the use of high quality drug and alcohol testing products and procedures that accord with Australian standards and legislative requirements in in industries such as mining, transport, aviation and the defence forces. In short, the introduction of risk control measures such as AOD testing using high quality products helps to “eliminate or reduce the risk of a person being exposed to a hazard” in the workplace by way of AOD use.[4]

For further information on quality saliva and urine drug testing technology, phone CMM Technology on 08 92042500.

[1] http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/healthsafety/Pages/Dutyofcare.aspx

[2] Stokes v Guest, Keen and Nettlefold (Bolts and Nuts) Ltd (1968) 1 WLR 1776

[3] http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/PDF/Guidance_notes/general_duty_of_care.pdf

[4] Ibid. P.71

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