When we receive phone calls about our drug testing service, the most common enquiry comes from someone who has just discovered that one of their workers is suspected of taking drugs. Usually, the call goes, “Hi, can you come and test on site on Monday morning at 7am… Can you test 10 people but make sure it includes ‘worker X’”
We are happy to come and test whoever you want us to test, but that does not accomplish more than addressing the one obvious “problem” and it ignores the larger picture that might exist in your organisation.
Generally speaking, a drug testing service identifies 3 to 5 percent of staff tested have an illicit substance in their system. This means that a single test session will not ensure the safety of your workplace and protect your workforce from drugs and alcohol caused injury and accidents. Deterrence requires regular and frequent testing.
It’s important to use the impetus to action that discovering drugs in your workforce creates to start looking at crafting a quality program focused on the safety of your workplace. This means much more than just commencing testing.
The first and key step is to consult widely with stakeholders including industry bodies, senior management, employee groups, unions, safety committees and anyone else necessary to ensure that your program is going to be implemented smoothly and efficiently.
Next is to develop an implementation strategy that is responsive to your organisation’s needs. Do your staff need to demonstrate long term abstinence from drugs? If so, you might need to consider Urine Testing. Are you concerned to ensure testing is non-invasive and relatively easy to implement? You might instead choose to implement Oral Fluid Testing. Are your staff transient or more long term? Sanctions for drug use might change with different employee styles. There are many strategic questions that you need to answer when developing your strategy.
Having settled on a drug and alcohol program strategy, policy needs to be developed that meets your organisation’s strategy. Procedures will need to reflect your strategy as well. These procedures will address issues such as the style of testing you want to engage in and will also reflect issues such as sanctions for staff who test positive.
Having developed drug testing policy and procedures that respond to your strategy and your previous consultation, you need to communicate them broadly within your organisation and get feedback.
Once your policy and procedures and initial communications have been finalised, it is very good practice to establish an initial education and awareness program involving all staff and addressing general education and awareness about drugs and alcohol as well as explaining in detail the policy and drug testing service procedures. This should be followed up regularly with toolbox talks and other mediums of education.
At this point the drug testing service becomes very simple to implement and maintain. All staff should have a good understanding of the mechanics of the program and any sticking points should have been ironed out.
Unfortunately, this is where many organisations leave their programs. They are satisfied that testing is occurring, generally on a semi regular basis. The problem is that over time, the initial reasons for testing are often forgotten and often people move on and other people join the organisation and assume responsibility for a program that many times they do not truly understand. Also for multisite organisations, it is hard to keep a handle on what is happening in the business in relation to drugs and alcohol. This is where regular reporting, benchmarking against industry trends and much other information assists with tracking the performance of the program as well as gaining a good picture of drugs and alcohol in your organisation.
Fit4Duty provides a range of statistical data and reporting that ensures that the program is maintained and developed to be responsive to our changing world and the ever changing profile of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Our expert advice assists you to refine and develop your program over time to respond to the needs of a modern health and safety environment.
To start the discussion about getting your program right for your workplace, contact us for an obligation free discussion.