Random drugs and alcohol testing is successfully carried out by Police forces worldwide and contributes to the overall safety of our roads and communities. As an Employer, just one employee under the influence can cause a ripple effect of risk across your entire workforce. So here are 4 reasons why you should consider including random drug and alcohol testing as part of your workplace drug testing program, or organisational drug testing program.
The definition of “under the influence” should be defined in your Policy. Random testing can help ensure your workforce is not under the influence of drugs or whilst in the workplace – without pointing the finger at any specific persons that you may suspect is under the influence. If you want to choose specific persons or individuals, that would be classed as a “with cause” or “reasonable suspicion” test. With random testing, names of your employees must be selected at random, using an impartial process. This could be via a specific “random selection” software for example. It is then those employees selected truly at random that are tested.
Drug and alcohol users can be skilled at hiding their drug abuse, dependency and/or addiction. Whether you are responsible for a small team of employees or thousands in multiple locations, it is very difficult to ensure you meet your Health and Safety and Human Resources responsibilities and know when an employee or contractor (for example) is in work “under the influence”. Training and education of managers and supervisors to spot the signs and symptoms should be delivered and goes some way to assist. However, regular random drug and alcohol testing takes care of the guess work and helps to manage the ongoing risk to all.
Drug and alcohol use today is not like it was a 10-20 years ago. The price of drugs and alcohol is cheaper than ever. Drugs (prescription and illegal) are easier to source than ever. The use of such drugs as Cannabis and Cocaine has become socially acceptable and “the norm”. Drugs today are high strength, and use in the workplace is more common than they have ever been. If any of your employees are using Cannabis, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Amphetamines, Alcohol, Novel Psychoactive Substances, Alcohol, Prescription/OTC Painkillers etc etc – it can all lead to the same outcome. Their own personal safety, as well as the overall safety of everyone else, will become further at risk. Accidents, incidents, near misses and serious injuries (amongst other risks, issues and costs) are likely to result.
People who use drugs or alcohol and don’t want to be found to be under the influence whilst at work, simply do not want to work for a company that carries out random workplace tests.
By actively and regularly promoting the fact that you carry out random drug and alcohol testing as part of your overall D&A program, it may deter applications for jobs from persons not suited to a workplace such as a safety critical environment. In addition to that, current employees who are taking drugs or abusing alcohol are likely to give a positive result on a random drug and alcohol test. Because they know this, it is a great incentive and opportunity for the employee to come forward earlier, ask for help, and no longer be a safety risk to themselves or others. For those employees returning to work after receiving assistance for drug and/or alcohol issues, random testing gives them another reason to say “no” and encourage successful abstinence.
At the same time, it also allows the employer to provide a healthier and safer workplace for all stakeholders – employees, contractors, visitors, customers, members of the public.
Many say “If you’ve got nothing to hide, then what is the problem?”. Everyone has the right to go to work and return home safely. Random testing for drugs and alcohol in the workplace is an ethical and sensible option when carried out correctly and in legally defensibly manner. It should be a regular part of any drug and alcohol testing program and done in conjunction with Pre-Employment, Pre-Appointment, Employee Compliance, With Cause and For Cause testing. It is a proven deterrent and successful tool to help maintain and manage the health, safety and wellbeing of employees from the issues and risks that drugs and alcohol pose in today’s workplace.
The UK has always had a serious alcohol problem, what hapens when cocaine and alcohol are combined? Binge drinking culture is rampant to this day, with UK citizens being drunk more often than any other country. As most know, the party context within which cocaine is often used means many consume the drug alongside alcohol; over half of cocaine users do, in recent studies. The problem here is significant. When cocaine is consumed alongside alcohol, both of the substances are metabolised at the same time in the body’s liver. When this happens, cocaethylene is formed. When this accrues inside us, it can pose a serious & direct threat to the function of our cardiovascular systems.
We often get asked “what is the level of drug use in the UK really like?”. It has been shown that workplace drinkers are more likely to be men than women, managers rather than their staff and single as apposed to being married. Alcoholism and drug dependence can lead to lowered productivity within the workplace, with increased levels of absenteeism and sick leave, accidents and injuries, including fatal accidents and even premature deaths. Substance abuse is linked to 60% of all poor performances and 40% of industrial accidents at work. 83% of employees who have had a hangover at work admit that it affected their productivity, 33% admit to having gone to work with a hangover, and 22% admit to having made mistakes at work because of a hangover.
Running red lights, driving at high speeds, crossing center lines into the other lanes, getting into accidents and even hitting pedestrians. A new study found these were some of the dangerous driving behaviors of regular, heavy users (4 or 5 times per week) of recreational weed who began using before the age of 16. Here's the catch: users drove this badly even when they were no longer “high”. At the time of driving experience, the marijuana group had not used for at least 12 hrs. Despite having little THC in their system, heavy users consistently performed worse on driving tasks than non-users. This can result in them making critical, dangerous mistakes. And when they looked at the cannabis users & separated those into early (before age 16) versus later onset of use, almost exclusively these differences between the 2 groups were attributed to the early onset group.