Australian workplace drug testing laws

Can you introduce drug testing to your workplace?. Credit Remy Gieling (image modified)

For a business contemplating the introduction of drug testing to their workplace, two of their key concerns are how their employees will react and where do they stand in terms of Australian workplace drug testing laws. So, let’s take a closer look at these two points and whether they should affect your decision to move ahead with drug testing.

Are there Australian workplace drug testing laws?

An important to point to clear up before we delve deeper into the above concerns is whether there are Australian workplace drug testing laws or rules that apply to all businesses.

Essentially the answer is no. In general, there are no specific laws or standards for workplace drug testing in Australia.

Legal obligations

While there are no specific Australian workplace drug testing laws, every workplace does have legal obligations under occupational health and safety (OHS) laws, which are designed to ensure the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace.

For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) requires employers, so far as is reasonably practicable, to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees (see section 21 of the OHS Act). This duty extends to independent contractors engaged by an employer and any employees of the independent contractor.

An employer’s duty to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment, so far as reasonably practicable, includes:

  • Providing and maintaining safe systems of work
  • Making arrangements for the safe use, handling, storage or transport of plant or substances
  • Providing information, instruction, training or supervision to employees as is necessary for them to carry out their work safely.

What does this mean for workplace drug testing? Can any workplace carry out drug testing?

The simple answer is yes, a workplace can legally conduct workplace drug testing. However, testing should be justified and appropriate. Specifically, this means any workplace where there are safety risks.

In fact, in workplaces where safety is critical and where risks are present, it’s imperative. That’s because of the legal obligation we’ve party highlighted above. Not taking steps to reduce the incidence of employees coming to work impaired by drugs or alcohol can certainly pose a significant risk to health and safety.

What’s the policy?

Before a workplace begins drug testing, they must ensure they have a drug and alcohol policy and procedures in place.

It’s also important that employees have been educated about the terms of the drug and alcohol policies and procedures, and they’re aware of the testing that will take place.

How will employees react to workplace drug testing?

It’s understandable that many businesses are concerned about the reaction of employees, but, if they introduce workplace drug testing correctly, they won’t have a problem.

Similar to the point about Australian workplace drug testing laws, the key here is to have a drug and alcohol policy and procedures in place and to educate employees about the policy, procedures and the implementation of drug testing.

Having a safe workplace isn’t just a business imperative, it’s obviously vital for employees. Most employees already do the right thing and wouldn’t risk turning up to work under the influence. They don’t want their colleagues to be turning up to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol either, because of the risk it poses to them.

If employees are confident in the procedures, including the accuracy of testing and the steps taken for positive results, they’ll support workplace drug testing.

Take the next step

If your business is contemplating introducing workplace drug testing, contact Integrity Sampling. We can help you with all aspects, including developing a drug and alcohol policy and procedures, and implementing testing.


Can you introduce drug testing to your workplace?. Credit Remy Gieling

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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