How do we implement drug and alcohol testing in our workplace?

Implementing drug and alcohol testing in your workplace can be a daunting task, but help is at hand. Credit GRAS GRÜN

One of the most common questions Integrity Sampling receives from new clients is, “How do we implement drug and alcohol testing in our workplace?”

It’s a reasonable question because implementing drug and alcohol testing for the first time can be a daunting task. There are a lot of questions that need answering and concerns that need addressing. Most prominent of these concerns for many businesses is how to implement testing without getting employees offside.

In this post, we’ll provide a guide on how to implement drug and alcohol testing in a workplace. It’s something we’ve helped countless clients do in the past and look forward to doing in the future. While it is a big task, it can make a huge difference to safety in your workplace.

Why do we need to conduct drug and alcohol testing?

It’s worth briefly looking at why you should implement workplace drug and alcohol testing.

Implementing a drug and alcohol testing program in your workplace is more than just a compliance requirement. It's a proactive measure to ensure a safe and productive work environment.

Substance abuse in the workplace poses significant risks, from impaired judgment and reduced productivity to accidents and potential legal liabilities. By addressing these concerns head-on, your organisation not only safeguards its employees but also promotes a culture of safety and responsibility.

Implementing drug and alcohol testing is perfectly appropriate in any workplace where safety is a priority and can be viewed similarly to other tools a workplace uses to reduce hazards and risks.

It’s worth briefly looking at why you should implement workplace drug and alcohol testing.

Conducting testing isn’t your first step

Long before you conduct your first test, there’s an important step you need to tick off. The development of robust, comprehensive, and transparent policies and procedures.

This will involve detailing every aspect of the way you will manage drugs and alcohol including:

  • Employer responsibilities.
  • Management and employee responsibilities.
  • Educational initiatives designed to ensure widespread understanding of your policy and to enhance awareness of the risks associated with drugs and alcohol.
  • Support mechanisms for individuals dealing with drug or alcohol-related issues.
  • Guidelines for work-sponsored functions involving the provision of alcohol.
  • Specifics of the drug and alcohol testing you will conduct.
  • Protocols to follow if an employee is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Counselling and disciplinary measures following a positive drug or alcohol test.
  • Consequences for individuals refusing to undergo a test.

This list highlights that testing is just one way to combat the impact of drugs and alcohol in your workplace. While it’s an important initiative, testing on its own is only part of the solution.

Find out more about the importance of a drug and alcohol policy on our drug and alcohol management page.

Will my employees be put offside if I implement drug and alcohol testing?

As we highlighted in the introduction, one of the prime concerns for many businesses is that implementing drug and alcohol testing will put employees offside.

While we understand the concern, if it’s done correctly, implementing testing will be accepted and even welcomed by most of your workforce. A key to this is to involve them in the implementation. Discuss and include representatives of your workforce in the implementation process and ensure their concerns are heard and acted upon.

Your employees will recognise that conducting drug and alcohol testing will make the workplace – their workplace – a safer one. Most employees will be supportive as they’ll be the ones who are more likely to be injured if drugs and alcohol aren’t managed.

At the end of the day, if you implement testing correctly, the only people likely to be put offside are those who come to work occasionally under the influence. In other words, those who may potentially return a positive test. These people are the very reason you need to conduct testing in the first place.

Education also a key

The education of employees, management, supervisors, contractors and others within your workplace should be another element of your implementation program. In fact, it’s a key element of any robust drug and alcohol management.

Education of employees and contractors is required to inform them of your policies, raise awareness of the risk drugs and alcohol pose in the workplace, provide them with details of your testing and much more.

Education of management and supervisors is also vital. The information will be similar to the education for employees, plus you should provide awareness on recognising the signs of drug and alcohol use and what to do if they suspect someone is under the influence.

Integrity Sampling can help educate your workplace about drugs and alcohol and have a range of program we can tailor to suit you. Contact us for more information or view our drug and alcohol education page.

The education of employees, management, supervisors, contractors and others within your workplace should be another element of your implementation program.

Drug and alcohol testing details

Now we start to get more into the nitty gritty of how drug and alcohol testing will be conducted in your workplace.

There are several key aspects including:

  • Which testing methodologies you should use to protect your workplace. The options are:
    • Pre-employment testing, prior to the commencement of employment or after a promotion
    • Cause testing when you suspect someone is under the influence
    • Testing after an accident or incident
    • Random drug and alcohol testing at any time of the day.
  • Deciding whether to use saliva or urine samples for drug testing. We recommend saliva, because it’s a better indicator of whether someone is fit to be at work.
  • Determining what the consequences will be for people who fail testing and refuse testing.
  • How you will ensure all test results are confidential.
  • Who will conduct your drug and alcohol testing? While it’s possible for you to conduct your own testing, most businesses should use professionals for the job. In the case of Integrity Sampling, our technicians are fully trained and accredited. They also have a thorough understanding of privacy laws, confidentiality and OH&S.

Need help implementing drug and alcohol testing in your workplace?

Implementing drug and alcohol testing in any workplace is a big task. While the information on this page will provide a guide, for most businesses it’s not enough. They’ll need expert help to ensure their testing is implemented correctly.

Integrity Sampling can assist with all aspects. This includes developing a drug and alcohol management policy for your workplace, educating your employees, implementing drug and alcohol testing and carrying out testing for you.

Give us a call on 1300 725 482 or contact us to get the ball rolling. We’ll make the process easy.

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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