Nine Tips to Ensure Your New Drug & Alcohol Testing Program is Readily Accepted by Your Employees

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“With modern, best practice drug & alcohol testing programs there are no longer any excuses for Employers not to implement them.”

The two most significant obstacles to employee acceptance of your drug & alcohol testing program are:

  • Misinformation.
  • Unfair policy & procedure or testing methods.

Overcoming these obstacles is a straight forward process. To ensure fairness in your testing program and remove misinformation follow the below nine tips:

  1. Choose drug testing methodology that is relevant to fitness for work and does not impose unreasonable expectations on your employees. Saliva testing detects recent use of drugs.
  2. Consult where necessary with representatives of your employees during drafting of drug & alcohol policy and procedure – listen to feedback. Maintain a balance of fairness and discipline eg; allow a two or three “strike” policy and select an alcohol limit which is appropriate for your workplace.
  3. Educate and induct all of your employees into the new testing program promoting consultation and feedback among them. This approach will serve to remove misconceptions and allay any anxiety (which is a natural reaction to changes in the workplace). Do not forget to educate employees about the safe use of prescription and over the counter medications.
  4. vConsider carefully the privacy and confidentiality of your personnel. Ensure your employees know strict procedures are in place to ensure this is taken very seriously.  Drugs & alcohol are very sensitive issues in the workplace and may require special procedures for protection of records eg; separate them from the employee personnel files.
  5. Select testing equipment which is the best available to avoid false results and provide maximum deterrent effect for your workplace.  Put simply, the testing must actually work!
  6. Engage an independent drug testing agency OR ensure your “in-house” program is professionally run, with proper training provided to the testing personnel.  This will add integrity to the program with quality of test processes and results.
  7. Confirm your external drug testing agency (if applicable) is an accredited “collecting agency” under the relevant Australian Standards. Ensure their individual “collectors” are also accredited.
  8. Prepare a random selection process which demonstrates accountability, efficiency and fairness.  It should include selection from all personnel on each site, including senior management, directors and business owners.
  9. Provide resources and materials to assist your employees to manage their own fitness for work.  For example alcohol breath testing equipment for self-testing on site and standard drink guidelines to manage consumption beforehand.

About the Author:

Cameron Stuart has specialised in saliva based workplace drug & alcohol testing programs since 2003. He has personally conducted many thousands of tests and implemented drug & alcohol testing programs into hundreds of workplaces. He consults to workplaces throughout Australia to assist with their drug testing programs.

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