Employees express their views on workplace drug testing

A UK report has found that most employees are happy to comply with workplace drug testing. Credit Dräger.

While many workers would prefer not to have to undergo workplace drug testing, most understand the need for the testing and are happy to comply for the sake of safety.

That’s one of the findings of annual, independent research, aimed at capturing the views of employees and managers on the topic of safety. There is excellent information in the findings, although there is a slight caveat for us here in Australia: it only involved workplaces in the UK.

UK Safety at Work Report

The findings come from the 2022 Dräger UK Safety at Work Report. The report involved 1203 participants across a range of sectors where safety is a prime focus, including oil and gas, new energy and renewables, manufacturing, construction, engineering, industrial and utilities.

One of the interesting aspects about this report is that it’s the first full year for a few years without COVID-19 restrictions. Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, when it comes to safety overall, there was a large increase in people feeling safer in their workplace now than compared to a year ago.

Workplace drug and alcohol testing findings

Before we look at the findings focusing on workplace drug testing, it’s important to take a quick look at how testing is managed in the UK workplace.

While there are naturally differences, the UK approach is similar to ours here in Australia, in that testing is mostly carried out to ensure a safe workplace. This is in contradiction to the US, where historically testing has been carried out in all sectors, even those where safety isn’t a prime issue.

So, what were the key findings in the 2022 Dräger UK Safety at Work Report?

  • Overall, employees understand the need for workplace drug testing and are compliant. In the words of the report: “83 percent of workers would comply with a corporate testing policy as they believe it is in everyone’s interest to be safe at work”.
  • It’s interesting to note that in a post COVID world, even those people who work remotely would be compliant to being tested at home. From a safety perspective, conducting testing in a person’s home certainly wouldn’t be required, but 70 per cent of home working respondents still said they would submit to testing while working from home.
  • Does this mean most people are happy to undergo workplace drug testing? Not quite. Thirty-one per cent of employees were not in favour of undergoing testing. Around 36 per cent felt it was an invasion of the privacy*.
  • Over 50 per cent of respondents believe that testing should be focused on safety-focussed roles, like machinery operators, but not office workers.
  • In summary, most UK employees would agree to be tested for drugs and alcohol by their employer in the interest of safety at work.

The report includes an excellent comment from Dr Karen McDonnell, Occupational Health and Policy Adviser, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

“It is good to see evidence that employers are taking health and safety issues more seriously and that there is a change in attitude to personal responsibility for safety. Drug and alcohol misuse poses a challenge to businesses and their ability to effectively manage talent and create sustainable value chains. Implementing a testing regime within an overall policy puts people at the heart of the conversation – quite simply drugs, alcohol and safety critical tasks such as driving do not mix.”

Who is Dräger?

Dräger is a leading manufacturer of medical and safety technology products. This includes products like breathalysers and drug testing equipment, which Integrity Sampling uses for all its workplace drug testing.

Integrity Sampling Australia Pty Ltd is an Exclusive Dräger Partner.

* While it’s not mentioned in the findings, we’d take an educated guess that most of those who felt drug testing was an invasion of privacy had to undergo urine drug testing. It’s one of the reasons why Integrity Sampling recommends using saliva samples for drug testing. All it takes is for the person being tested to rub a collection piece around their mouth for a few seconds, making it far less invasive.


A UK report has found that most employees are happy to comply with workplace drug testing. Credit Dräger.

A UK report has found that most employees are happy to comply with workplace drug testing. Credit Dräger.

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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