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Drug and Alcohol Screening in the Workplace in Australia

Most of us one way or another may have encountered or heard of incidents in the workplace due to alcohol and drug abuse. That is one of the reasons why most businesses put in place drug and alcohol screening. It requires the employees to understand the expectations regarding the use of drugs and alcohol that can jeopardize workplace health and safety. Because alcohol and other addictive substances can create problems within the workplace, screenings greatly enhances workplace safety therefore setting a standard within a company. 

What is Drug and Alcohol Screening?

Australian businesses conduct drug and alcohol screening to prevent negative employee productivity such as lost productive hours, absenteeism, injury to property or person, damage to machinery, etc. Drug and alcohol screening in the workplace does not necessarily have a specific set of rules, it is a requirement for employers to comply with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Occupational Safety and Health Act (1994) to avoid or take preventive measures against drug and alcohol abuse. Drug and alcohol-related casualties account for 10% of all workplace fatalities. Prolonged effects from alcohol intake are also known to affect an individual’s health & wellbeing. 

Screenings are a part of the hiring process to identify and prevent any possible problems caused by this behavior and are mainly to ensure a safe workplace environment. Drug and alcohol screening in the workplace isn’t just for the benefit of the company, but to also address and help its current employees to be safe at work and raise awareness. 

Australian rules govern drug and alcohol screening at work. It consists of step-by-step instructions for various sampling methodologies. There are other requirements for machinery, as well as sample management, preservation, and providing information. Blood tests, urine samples, and saliva tests are the three classifications of screening available.  

Various tests offer various degrees of accuracy as well as diverse production schedules for findings. Furthermore, companies have a variety of alternatives for conducting drug and alcohol screening in the workplace. These are impromptu random testing, scheduled testing, targeted or reasonable suspicion testing, pre-employment testing, post-accident testing, post-positive result testing, rehabilitation testing and voluntary testing. 

Although drug and alcohol screening are a systematic approach for detecting drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace, it is not without flaws. In any instance, drug tests might not establish whether a drug user is casual or a customary user of the substance. Employers must find the right balance between their responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace and their employees’ privacy rights and equal protection. 


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