Why is Drug and Alcohol Testing Important for the Mining Industry?

The mining industry is considered to be a high-hazard work environment. Dangerous conditions coupled with high stress and unpredictable circumstances make safety a core issue. Often, safety is used as a blanket reason for implementing drug and alcohol testing. However, in addition to a safe working environment, there are other important reasons to use drug and alcohol testing in a high-hazard industry, such as mining.

Of course, safety is the primary reason. Employees who are under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic cannot safely handle heavy equipment or severe working conditions. Careless disposal of drugs and drug injection equipment can cause harm to others.[1] Teams of employees which must work together to increase safety and work procedures must have competent, clear-headed members on their team, or they will not be able to produce as quickly nor will they have the safety and reliability associated with working on a team. As much as varying layers of employees and management may not like each other, trust and responsibility are key factors in a working relationship in a high-hazard industry. This means that the level of individual responsibility affects the whole company.

Secondarily, reputation in an industry is crucial to maintaining production, sustainability and, most importantly, employment. Since the mining industry is a contractual business, it is important to maintain a solid reputation among peers, not just locally, but globally as well. If a reputation begins to die out, then the number of contracts decreases, employees are laid off, pay decreases and every single member of the organisation is negatively impacted. This is not only true in high-hazard industries such as transport, aviation, construction and mining, but also for corporate businesses, both large and small. One employee who interacts with a customer while under the influence of substance abuse can deplete resources for the entire organisation.[2] All it takes is negative word-of-mouth distributed locally, on social networks, on the news, or within families, and businesses can lose clientele quite rapidly. However, if a company maintains a reputation for a drug and alcohol-free environment, the social standing among communities will be maintained.

The mining industry is not only known for its dangerous working conditions, but it can also be known for substance abuse among its workers. It is important to maintain a rigorous drug and alcohol testing schedule in order to develop a positive reputation, not just within a country, but worldwide.

1. Holland, Peter. “Case Study – Drug Testing in the Australian Mining Industry.” Surveillance and Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. www.surveillance-and-society.org.dd17822.kasserver.com/articles1%282%29/drugsmining.pdf.

2. Critelli, Anthony. “Liability for Entrusting an Automobile to a Known Incompetent.” HeinOnline.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/drklr4&div=16&id=&page=.

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