The how and why you should….. drug and alcohol testing in the workplace.


The how and why you should….. drug and alcohol testing in the workplace.

Article written and suppled by Drug Alcohol Testing Specialists: Russel Scott and Alastair McNeil

DATS are often asked to provide feedback and answer questions as to how and why Drug and Alcohol Testing is such an integral and important requirement in the  workplace.

“Every time an employee suffers an injury – even outside the workplace – there will be an impact on your business; resulting in finding someone to fill in, training and replacement, and less efficient use of time. But do you know the real impact on your business financially? “Quoted “Accident Compensation Corporation (July 2015)

Workplace drug testing continues to increase in New Zealand as companies respond to the increasing availability of drugs in our society and the workplace requirements of health and safety regulations. Recent prosecutions aimed at Company Directors who demonstrated a failure to assess harm and risk, and a lack of conscious safety planning, highlight the challenges that managers and company directors will continue to face.

Company directors and senior executives have now become increasingly exposed to penalties for failing to ensure a safe working environment. With changes to Health and safety, the stricter legislation has been brought in to ensure a duty of care to all employees and the safety of the public at large.

We believe there is a need to for clearer and robust workplace drug testing programmes. That includes weighing up both the tangible and intangible benefits that are often overlooked.

Data collected, confirms that no single sector of industry can or should be complacent in dealing with this almost explosive pandemic use of substances once only whispered or at most dealt with in isolation. These are the most trying of times for each and every one of us, and of course our most valued assets, our staff, and employees.

The added pressures faced by individuals have increased exponentially which has coincided with a huge increase in substances use that is easily available in all sectors of society.

What are the costs or risks associated with drug use in your workplace?

There is now well-established and documented research that provides clear evidence to the link between higher incidents of workplace accidents and employee drug or substance use. These include:

  • New Zealand – Ministry of Health report on Cannabis Use (2015)
  • New Zealand – Forrest Owners Association – (2010)
  • New Zealand – Business and Economic Research Limited (2009).
  • New Zealand – Department of Labour New Zealand (2002)

The key themes to come out of these studies include organisations with good workplace policies are associated with lower levels of risk related to alcohol and drug use among employees.

  • Employees who used drugs are 51% more likely to have increased medical claims
  • Regular drug users are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident
  • Testing at the optimal frequency generates net savings of at least 15:1, in on board personnel
  • Employees who used drugs have a 66% higher rate of absenteeism.
  • 6% of cannabis users reported harmful effects within work.

If one of your employees has an accident caused by simple inattention as a result of immediate or post effects of substance or drug use the probability (based on ACC figures and their model) is that it will cost you around $9,000. This is based on: 

  • Investigation costs
  • Replacement staffing costs
  • Loss of productivity costs
  • Total cost to your business image and reputation   

What is the level of investment required to implement a comprehensive drug-testing programme? Clearly not a simple question to immediately answer, however consider the costs of not implementing a robust drug-testing programme and the damage and costs as outlined above, money spent from the inception of a program can and will be a fraction of what a lack of a policy and program could cause your brand and company directors.

Although costs have risen in recent years, new technologies have evolved that we at Drug Alcohol Testing Specialists (DATS) are able to utilise to keep these prices to an affordable level. The AS/NZS 4308:2008 standard allows drug testing companies to be able to conduct on-site screening resulting in a more efficient process, and less down time for the employer.

On-site screening has resulted in lab costs being dramatically reduced.  In addition, the instant results, (including negative results being produced on the spot) means that stand down periods are reduced significantly.  The cost to the employer relates primarily to the cost of the collection, materials, compliance management and technician’s time to conduct the test.

In Conclusion Workplace drug testing is an effective tool to prevent accidents within the workplace; there is extensive research available which states the benefits of introducing a testing regime, including reduced accidents and near misses, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and reduced disciplinary actions.

We know that a robust and approved drug testing programme, utilizing proper procedures, and conducted in accordance with best commercial practices, will result in reduced accidents, improved safety, less down time, and lower costs to the employer.

So a quick check list for you to consider? 

  • Does your Company have an effectively managed drug-testing programme?
  • Have you taken all practical and reasonable steps to ensure that you are fulfilling your obligations to your people, customers, and society in general by providing a drug free working environment?
  • Can your Company afford not to introduce an effective drug-testing program?

About Drug and Alcohol Testing Specialists: Russell Scott and Alastair McNeill established DATS through the need for excellence in all aspects of industry, and through the frustration of others. Between them they have an extensive background in drug and alcohol testing and have been in existence for the past few months supporting a constantly expanding customer base. They take pride in customer service and the business relationships they build with clients. They are proud of the many years of experience they collectively have in this field, having been involved at the inception of onsite drug and alcohol testing, particularly in the South Island. Their specialists have a wide and enviable knowledge base and are held in high regard by industry peers and associates. Their personable service and the relationships they have developed with their existing clientele should give you the confidence to reach out to see how they can help your business

Contact Russel or Alastair at DATS

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