How-To Guide to Alcohol and drugs Testing

How-To Guide to Alcohol and drugs Testing


  • Date: Monday 25th February 2019
  • PDF: Download

Recently, we have noted an increase in drug and alcohol test requests, particularly across the construction industry.  Often, tests are now either required on commencement of a contract or conducted by the client while works are being completed.

Before launching into testing, we recommend you take a step back and review your processes to avoid potential discrimination or breach of procedure.

Am I allowed to test my employees?

  • Yes, in fact, it shows good Health and Safety practice for high risk task management.
  • You must implement a detailed Alcohol and Drugs testing policy.
  • Once you have implemented your policy, employees who refuse to be tested should be investigated under your disciplinary procedure.

Why test?

  • To ensure your employees are safe and fit to undertake their duties.  This especially applies if they operate machinery, work at height or undertake any other high-risk activity.
  • To protect your workforce and the general public from harm, which is your responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • As a requirement under a contract or tender.
  • As a reaction to an event, i.e. you have been made aware that somebody may be under the influence of a substance.

How?

  • Alcohol can be tested easily by asking the individual to blow into a breathalyser, which you can buy online.  Make sure a witness is present when the test is conducted.  Ask the individual if they have consumed anything or suffer from a condition that could give you a false positive.
  • Drug tests are also available online but require a urine or saliva sample.  We do not recommend that employers undertake these tests themselves, since samples can easily be contaminated and show false positives if not handled proficiently.

Instead, we recommend employers engage a professional drug testing service or include testing as part of their occupational health reviews (available through SSG).

Who should be tested?

This depends on your policy.  Some organisations establish a 'random' schedule of appointments, which isn't disclosed to the employees.  On the day, the provider picks employee names from a list at random or, depending on your contract with them, tests the whole workforce.  

Others opt for regular checks on appointment and then every few months.

On top of your sweep-tests, you may also wish to test individuals if you have had reports of them being under the influence.  Just watch out for discrimination and ask your HR consultant for advice at the time.

What happens after the test?

Alcohol: Log the result (you may wish to take a photo of the breathalyser reading).  If you receive a positive result, treat this as potential gross misconduct.

Drugs: sample pots will only give an indication that a substance has been detected.  Therefore, samples are split before the initial reading and the second sample is sent off to a laboratory for further analysis.  Until you get the results, we recommend treating the incident as potential gross misconduct, which means that the individual should be suspended immediately.

Source: Manuela Grossmann, SSG

Recently, we have noted an increase in drug and alcohol test requests, particularly across the construction industry.  Often, tests are now either required on commencement of a contract or conducted by the client while works are being completed.

Before launching into testing, we recommend you take a step back and review your processes to avoid potential discrimination or breach of procedure.

Am I allowed to test my employees?

  • Yes, in fact, it shows good Health and Safety practice for high risk task management.
  • You must implement a detailed Alcohol and Drugs testing policy.
  • Once you have implemented your policy, employees who refuse to be tested should be investigated under your disciplinary procedure.

Why test?

  • To ensure your employees are safe and fit to undertake their duties.  This especially applies if they operate machinery, work at height or undertake any other high-risk activity.
  • To protect your workforce and the general public from harm, which is your responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • As a requirement under a contract or tender.
  • As a reaction to an event, i.e. you have been made aware that somebody may be under the influence of a substance.

How?

  • Alcohol can be tested easily by asking the individual to blow into a breathalyser, which you can buy online.  Make sure a witness is present when the test is conducted.  Ask the individual if they have consumed anything or suffer from a condition that could give you a false positive.
  • Drug tests are also available online but require a urine or saliva sample.  We do not recommend that employers undertake these tests themselves, since samples can easily be contaminated and show false positives if not handled proficiently.

Instead, we recommend employers engage a professional drug testing service or include testing as part of their occupational health reviews (available through SSG).

Who should be tested?

This depends on your policy.  Some organisations establish a 'random' schedule of appointments, which isn't disclosed to the employees.  On the day, the provider picks employee names from a list at random or, depending on your contract with them, tests the whole workforce.  

Others opt for regular checks on appointment and then every few months.

On top of your sweep-tests, you may also wish to test individuals if you have had reports of them being under the influence.  Just watch out for discrimination and ask your HR consultant for advice at the time.

What happens after the test?

Alcohol: Log the result (you may wish to take a photo of the breathalyser reading).  If you receive a positive result, treat this as potential gross misconduct.

Drugs: sample pots will only give an indication that a substance has been detected.  Therefore, samples are split before the initial reading and the second sample is sent off to a laboratory for further analysis.  Until you get the results, we recommend treating the incident as potential gross misconduct, which means that the individual should be suspended immediately.

Source: Manuela Grossmann, SSG


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