breathalysers-australia transparent logo
truck-icon-red-banner

Same day local dispatch

australia-icon-red-banner

Australian owned

Breathalysers

1-3 year warranty

breathalyser

Australia's industry specialist

Drug Testing in the Workplace: Overview, Types, and Legal Implications

14 November, 2023

A female worker wearing a personal protective gear

Drug testing in the workplace is a standard practice in several industries to ensure employee safety and well-being. A safe and healthy work environment is vital to maintain hazard-free operations and productivity. Hence, companies use urine, saliva, hair, and blood tests to conduct comprehensive testing. However, employers must see to it that they establish and communicate clear workplace policies and follow strict protocols for testing and handling positive test results.

Alcohol and drug abuse pose significant risks not just to the individual but to others as well. In the workplace, an employee with impairment or substance abuse disorder often experiences impaired judgment, coordination, and cognitive functions. As a result, it often leads to accidents and injuries. Therefore, employers implement safety measures to manage these risks. This article will present a general overview of workplace drug tests, the types of tests, and their legal implications.

An Overview of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Drug testing in the workplace has become increasingly common as employers strive to maintain a safe and productive environment. This procedure involves analysing biological specimens to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in a person. Moreover, the tests are conducted under several circumstances, such as pre-employment, random, post-incident, and reasonable suspicion cases.

Companies first develop a comprehensive workplace drug policy to outline the procedure of drug testing and the consequences of positive test results. This policy should be communicated clearly to all employees to ensure understanding and compliance. Additionally, employers may include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide support and resources for employees struggling with substance abuse.

The results of the test can have serious consequences for the employee, including termination of employment or disciplinary action. However, it is important for employers to handle positive test results in a fair and consistent manner. Therefore, the development of the workplace policy must be in compliance with relevant drug testing laws and occupational health and safety standards.

Main Reasons for Implementation

  • Identify individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while working.
  • Prevent potential accidents and other safety risks in the workplace.
  • Deter misuse of drugs among employees.
  • Promote fair and equal opportunity for all employees by maintaining a drug-free working environment.
  • Comply with legal and regulatory requirements, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Fair Work Act of Australia.
  • Mitigate legal liabilities and penalties due to an incident.
  • Reduce poor work performance, absenteeism, tardiness, and employee turnover associated with substance abuse.
  • Reduce healthcare costs and repair costs of property damage due to accidents.

Handing a urine sample to a laboratory technician

Types of Drug Testing in the Workplace

There are several types of drug testing in the workplace that employers can use to screen employees for the use of illicit substances. Urine testing is the standard method for testing in workplaces. It uses urine samples to trace a variety of substances. It is a non-invasive method that can be done using kits or through laboratories.

Saliva testing is another popular method of drug screening. Many use these for onsite testing since the collection procedure is easy to conduct in public spaces. The collector must simply use a swab stick to gather oral fluid samples from inside the cheek and under the tongue.

Hair follicle testing is another method that companies may use to trace drugs. This has the longest detection period of 90 days, making it helpful for acquiring a history of substance use. However, this does not include substances consumed seven days before collection due to the nature of hair growth. Lastly, blood screening is considered the most accurate method of testing. However, it uses an invasive procedure of gathering blood samples from the arm.

Which Type to Use?

There are several types of testing methods that employers can use depending on the situation. A standard method is a urine test. This procedure is cost-efficient and easy to administer. It can detect a wide range of drugs of abuse in urine within a few days after consumption.

Another type is the saliva test. It is less invasive and can detect illicit drugs in oral fluid samples within the past two days. Additionally, the breath test detects the presence of alcohol. Finally, the blood test is the most accurate method, but it is more invasive and expensive than urine or saliva testing.

A safety hat, rule book, and gavel

Legal Implications of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Implementing drug testing in the workplace requires employers to navigate various legal considerations. In general, it is legal for businesses to conduct these tests to minimise the impact of drug abuse and harmful alcohol consumption. However, the company policy must adhere to relevant laws. Organisations must also ensure that the drug testing program is fair and unbiased.

The testing procedure must be clear to all, including the grounds for conducting the test, obtaining consent, and handling the results.  Failure to comply with the laws can result in legal liabilities and penalties for the company. For example, employers may face unfair dismissal claims if they terminate an employee solely based on a positive drug test without following proper procedures.

Furthermore, there are also several legal implications for the employee. Individuals with positive test results may face dismissal for breaches of drug and alcohol policy. Thus, it is crucial for employees to know the conditions of their employment agreement to understand the potential consequences of drug issues.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Due to the intrusive nature of drug testing, there are various employee rights that employers must respect and abide by. It is essential to uphold the privacy rights of employees to protect them against unfair treatment. In addition, employers have to follow strict confidentiality procedures when dealing with personal information and test results.

Employees also share the rights and responsibility of maintaining a safe workplace. Thus, they must not come to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which may impair their ability to perform their job safely. They must also report incidents that compromise workplace safety.

Conclusion

Drug testing in the workplace is a safety initiative that employers use to maintain a secure, healthy, and productive environment. It involves detecting the presence of illicit substances in the system to determine who is working while impaired. Therefore, early detection can help prevent the risk of serious accidents and injuries. Moreover, there are various circumstances and types of drug testing that employers can utilise, such as pre-employment, random, post-incident, and for-cause testing.

Employers have a choice of several testing methods depending on the situation. Urine and saliva tests are cost-effective methods for onsite screening, while a blood test is beneficial for confirming initial non-negative results. Equally important, it is vital for companies and employees alike to adhere to the safety laws to avoid legal consequences. Overall, the purpose of the test is to promote workplace safety and productivity by identifying and addressing substance abuse issues.

0
    Shopping Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
      Calculate Shipping
      Shipping options will be updated during checkout.

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Driving Restrictions? (P Platers, Zero Tolerance etc)

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Key Benefits

      Your Perfect Match

      Key Benefits

      A female worker wearing a personal protective gear

      Would you like extra mouthpieces?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      You may be interested in…

      Thank you for registering your breathalyser.

      Our system will now automatically send you a notification when your calibration is due.

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Are you Testing Employees?