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How Employers can Avoid 5 Big Mistakes when Drug and Alcohol Testing

We’ve previously covered the biggest pitfalls in workplace drug and alcohol testing policies, but even when your Drug and Alcohol Management Procedure is air tight, mistakes can still be made during the execution process, which can land employers in hot water. And no business should be exposed to those risks when they’ve already taken the time and effort to have a well-written and risk-reducing policy.

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Here are our tips for avoiding some big mistakes when testing for drugs and alcohol:

Ensure your procedure covers drug testing when a worker is showing possible signs of drug and alcohol use
Your drug and alcohol management procedure should clearly outline the process for conducting testing when you have a suspicion that someone may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Doing so significantly increases your protection from accidents, incidents and substantial costs to your business.

Ensure random testing is ‘truly random’
Remember that the aim of testing is not to ‘catch out’ employees, but to provide a safe and risk-adverse work environment. Often much of the resistance to testing is when employees believe they are being targeted due to regular but ‘supposedly random’ testing. This could expose you to unfair or adverse action.  The only way to ensure that testing is truly random is to use a random generator, where employees have the same probability of being picked for testing. This also means that for repeated rounds of testing, if employees have already been picked for previous rounds, they have the same probability of being picked for the next round, just as everyone else does.

Make sure your testing schedule is not predictable
It’s pretty simple; if employees can predict when testing will occur, they can avoid detection. Ensure your testing schedule is not the same day or time, that frequency varies, the time between notification and testing is kept as short as possible, and that minimum people know in advance.

Wait for laboratory confirmation before implementing disciplinary action
An initial onsite drug screen result is not deemed positive until it is confirmed by a NATA accredited laboratory. A good drug and alcohol procedure should clearly document the process to be followed between the onsite test result and the confirmatory lab result. A worker should not be terminated during this time.

Keep appropriate documentation
Unfair dismissal claims and employee complaints are common when drug and alcohol testing is done poorly. Employers should maintain clear documentation across the entire testing process including employee selection, notification, comments or concerns. This ensures that the business is protected from claims, and proves that the process was completed fairly and in accordance with the Drug and Alcohol Management Procedure. Similarly, all employees must be informed of any changes to the procedure, trained and educated on the changes. Employers should have a documented and signed acceptance from each employee with regards to the change/s.

4 billion dollars – that’s how much it costs Australian businesses annually due to drug and alcohol induced accidents, illness absenteeism and productivity. Can your business afford to be part of that?

When you’ve already spent so much time writing, educating and executing your Drug and Alcohol Management Procedure, don’t make these small mistakes which all too often result in big consequences. For the best protection, contact Work Options for a thorough and tailored Drug and Alcohol Management Plan, designed to protect your business from the risks of drugs and alcohol.

Related reading:
You suspect a worker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, what’s next?
The common problem with a positive drug and alcohol test which no one talks about
What to do when an employee fails a drug test
The biggest pitfalls in workplace drug and alcohol testing policies

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