Drug and alcohol testing policy: How to get started

Recently, new rules on random drug and alcohol testing of workers on all new Victorian Government building sites were established and set to start on July

Recently, new rules on random drug and alcohol testing of workers on all new Victorian Government building sites were established and set to start on July 1. Industrial relations minister Robert Clark on Friday released the code, which will apply to all companies submitting a tender for new construction projects after July 1, including the two stages of the $14 billion East West Link.

Widespread reports of workers being intoxicated, and of drug distribution and abuse, led to the new rules, Mr Clark said.

Workplace alcohol and drug testing is very likely to become more and more common as employers try to reduce absenteeism and lost productivity among workers.

According to the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF), alcohol and drug use cost Australian businesses $5.2 billion a year in hidden lost productivity and absenteeism.

But if your workplace has not had a drug and alcohol policy before, it can be quite confusing and challenging to move past that first stage if you don’t have help from an expert. If you are in this situation then you have come to the right place for information.

Andatech has had more than 10 years of experience in alcohol breath testing, and in 2003 pioneered the market for personal breathalysers by becoming the first company in Australia to produce an Australian Standard AS3547 Certified breathalyser for personal use under $200. We have some of the most accurate and technologically advanced industrial breathalysers for workplace use, including programs for training, and breathalyser management services.

Additionally, you may opt for a drug and alcohol testing platform. DT Manager allows companies to have full control of their testing procedures, and keeps a succinct record of past tests, drug field tests, and many more. You can check out DT Manager here.

Workplaces need to develop and implement a sound formal written alcohol and drug policy which fits the organisation’s needs and addresses workplace specific risks.

So how do you get started?

1. Assess the risk in your workplace and develop a suitable drug and alcohol policy.

Even if your organisation is not in a safety critical industry, having an alcohol- and drug-free workplace is still important to reduce absenteeism and lost productivity. The key in developing a policy should be to educate employees on the importance of a healthy and safe workplace. See our past article on tips for developing a workplace drug and alcohol testing policy. There are many good resources that can help you think about a suitable policy for your workplace.

Visit the Safe Work Australia and Australian Drug Foundation websites for more comprehensive information. Policy development needs to consider all the key stakeholders including senior management, the safety officer, unions if present, and employees. Consult early and consult often to ensure all concerns and ideas are raised.

2. What method of testing?

In line with Fairwork Australia, national privacy principles and occupational health and safety legislation, if you have the types of testing listed in your policy, you are reasonably able to request staff to participate in a drug and/or alcohol test.

The right method of testing is dependent on:

  • The industry you are in e.g. legislation requirements may be present.
  • The presence and influence of unions.
  • What the goals of the organisation are.
  • Why are you implementing a drug and alcohol testing program
  • Geography, availability of facilities etc.

3. Alcohol breath testing – devices to use

Once you have developed a policy, you will need breath testing devices to test employees for alcohol. Choose an industrial breathalyser that is Australian Standards Certified and serviceable.

Breathalysers like the AlcoSense Prodigy breathalyser and AlcoSense Precision+ breathalysers are great choices for small and large workplaces. Both are Australian Standards Certified and equipped with advanced fuel cell sensors for fast and accurate testing. The Precision+ offers simple testing with user-friendly operations, whereas the Prodigy has more advanced features including printer compatibility, ability to keep thousands of test records, USB connectivity and more.

4. Drug testing kits – non-invasive methods

Drug testing in the workplace can be done with great accuracy and has even become an accepted method of screening samples quickly on-site. Drug testing kits are used as screening devices to test for the presence of drugs. If a test comes back positive, then a confirmatory test is required from an approved laboratory using the existing sample or a new sample.

On-site saliva drug test kits provide a fast, non-invasive method of testing for the major drug types. Ensure the kits you use are also Australian Standards Certified to ensure they provide reliable test results. Check that the drug testing kit you use have a cut-off level that corresponds with your workplace safety policy.

Saliva kits like the DSO7 are fast, easy to use, featuring low cut off-levels and tests for the 7 major drug groups.

For information and assistance with drug testing Australia workplace employees, be sure to talk to our workplace drug testing experts on 1300 800 200 (AU) or +613 8899 6900 (International) for a free consultation.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your business’s needs.

Jaka Exstrada

Jaka Exstrada

Since 2017, Jaka has been providing consultation for alcohol and drug testing policies to companies in various industries, such as mining, transport, construction, and medical, in Australia. As an accredited Drug and Alcohol Officer for Drug Abuse Testing, he brings valuable insight to companies that want to create and maintain an alcohol and drug-free working environment for the safety of their employees, as well as to ensure the efficiency of on-site operations.