Aug 30

Alcohol and Drugs Testing In The Workplace

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Propelled by a requirement to assure well-being, health and safety of workers, company substance misuse policies have eventually become increasingly popular across the UK. But unfortunately, there still persist an abundance of misinterpretations relating to the system, which can lead to misgivings among the staff involved in the process.

Alcohol and Drugs Testing In The Workplace – Exactly where is the danger?

A significant proportion of the population estimate that the impact of misused drugs within the workplace is a very minor issue. Everybody has seen Christmas anti-drink-driving commercials and as a consequence, bear in mind that drug driving and drink-driving is not safe, so can’t we trust in the general public’s common sense? Alas, as many as 50% of all workplace and roadside fatalities throughout the United Kingdom are connected with drink, street drugs, or a combination of both. Latest figures reveal that over 70% of illicit drug abusers are in full-time employment, meaning that the average substance misuser is, in a sense, the average member of staff. Modern Home Office stats estimate the number of 16 to 29-year-olds who have misused illicit drugs within the previous 12 months at just under 50% of the population. So, it is irresponsible to view this as someone else’s issue, because it is relevant to every place of work. While the usage of illicit drugs doesn’t automatically mean irresponsible attitudes within the working environment, it does drastically magnify the probability of incidents and accidents, attendance issues, a marked reduction in productivity, damage to equipment and stock, being involved in a lawsuit and a higher than average turnover of personnel.

Alcohol and Drugs Testing In The Workplace – So What Can You Do? Isn’t workplace drug testing difficult to do?

Lots of organizations only conduct a workplace drug screen in response to a significant damage to property or an injury, an incident, or in cases where they have reasonable cause for concern that an employee is unsafe or unfit for active duty. Due to the vast range of potential dangers associated with heavy industrial company premises, many workplaces believe it entirely reasonable to trigger diagnostic tests in such situations, as a measure to prevent them occurring ever again.

However, random drug tests brings the screening process to the next level, where a predetermined sample of the workforce is chosen at random to provide a sample of urine and/or breath. This could be seen as a little invasive, however, it is pretty commonplace for as few as 5% of the personnel to be screened up to once in every year. this is equivalent to only one in 20 people being drug and alcohol tested, as an alternative, as an individual, your likelihood of being subject to a test should be once each 20 years. As incredible as it seems, such infrequent testing has indeed been shown to decrease positivity rates from as high as 46% down to as low as just 2% within just a few months. This strongly suggests that the average substance abuser present in the working environment isn’t hopelessly addicted and unable to change, but is simply making lifestyle choices that can possibly be reshaped toward a more positive end result.

Alcohol and Drugs Testing In The Workplace. Can this be seen as an infringement of the person’s civil liberties and human rights?

Although some individuals within the company could be hesitant at first regarding the thought of testing, the majority of them comprehend that this will be conducted to safeguard the health and safety of anybody throughout the business. Provided the extent of testing is in proportion to the hazards within the work environment and doesn’t intentionally disrupt employee life outside of work, it doesn’t pose a danger to employee human rights. When it comes to America, around 98% of the top 1000 corporations drug test their workers without any issues.

Who says there is any danger while recreationally using street drugs away from the workplace?

Countless illegal drugs have certainly acquired a softer image as a result of their frequent coverage throughout national newspapers and magazines. Undoubtedly, phrases including “recreational cocaine use” may cause a great amount of harm in glossing over the risks to the general public. For a lot of teenagers, the use of cocaine is even more habit-forming than heroin and cannot be abused on a recreational basis without considerable risk of becoming addicted. Addiction aside, the level of cocaine purity has fallen from an average 45 percent purity in 2004 to a low of about twenty five percent purity in 2010 (with the purity of cocaine as low as nine percent being reported currently). Worryingly, the powders that dealers use to cut the cocaine range from local anaesthetics, carcinogenic pharmaceuticals, dog worming powders, through to insecticides. The unfortunate fact is you can never rely upon a drug dealer.

Even substances formerly regarded as soft drugs can still carry dangers. In recent years in England and Scotland, a frightening 92% of patients accepted for therapy for mental illness are regular cannabis users. With this in mind, workplace drugs testing undeniably possesses the realistic potential to deal with wider antisocial and health related problems when it becomes commonplace.

Read more about employee drug screening plus home drug screening kits, check out www.drug-aware.com

Regarding the author: Christopher Evans is the Technical Director of Drug-Aware Ltd, a supplier of Alcohol and Drugs Testing In The Workplace, alcohol and drugs screening kits, laboratory services and also alcohol and drugs awareness education. He has educated literally thousands of delegates across hundreds of organisations, HM Prison Service, the British police and hospitals and GP surgeries across the United Kingdom.

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