Safely does it, with workplace drug and alcohol testing

Workplace drug and alcohol testing in Australia is about safety. Credit Jetstar Airways

Workplace drug and alcohol testing is seen by some to be controversial, however, when it’s handled properly and done for the right reason it’s absolutely unnecessary for it to be seen as contentious.

What is the right reason? It’s pretty simple – safety.

As we’ve highlighted before in our blogs, workplace drug and alcohol testing in some countries, most notably the United States, is more widespread and not solely conducted for safety reasons. In Australia, safety is generally the only reason that workplace drug and alcohol testing is conducted. There has been some push for drug and alcohol testing to be conducted for other reasons, for example in some cases council people who don’t work in a safety-focussed roles are now being tested, but this type of testing is minimal.

This is why truck drivers, pilots, manufacturing workers, miners, agricultural workers and others are often asked to undertake workplace drug and alcohol testing, while people like office workers and retail staff aren’t.

Workplace drug and alcohol testing, as part of an overall drug and alcohol management program, and as part of a robust safety program makes sense for people who work in roles were safety is paramount. Testing helps to protect their safety and their lives as well as the lives of others. After all, would you want a pilot of the plane you’re about to fly on to be over 0.05? Would you want a truck driver who’s driving in the lane beside you to be high on ICE?

The reasons for conducting workplace drug testing is pretty clear when you look at it this way!

What’s your drug and alcohol management plan?

As we briefly mentioned above, workplace drug and alcohol testing needs to be conducted as part of an overall drug and alcohol management plan. Conducting drug and alcohol testing in your workplace without having a drug and alcohol policy can leave your business open to issues down the track, particularly when dealing with positive testing results or employees who refuse testing.

What does a drug and alcohol management plan cover? Let’s take a broad look at the types of things a robust plan will include:

  • It should include details on how you will manage drugs and alcohol in your workplace. This can include aspects such as education for all your employees, support for employees with issues, and drug and alcohol testing.
  • Details of the type of drug and alcohol testing you’ll undertake in your business. Random drug testing is perhaps the most well-known, but you can also conduct pre-employment testing, testing of employees who are suspected of being under the influence (cause testing) and testing following an accident, incident or near miss (incident testing).
  • The drug testing method you’ll be using. Integrity Sampling recommends saliva drug testing, but you may also choose urine testing.
  • You’ll want to clearly state what the policy is when an employee has a positive test. Zero tolerance is generally not prescribed, although in some industries, such as aviation, it is commonplace.
  • How will you deal with people who refuse workplace drug and alcohol testing?


Workplace drug and alcohol testing in Australia is about safety. Credit Jetstar Airways

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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