The benefits for SMEs in outsourcing drug and alcohol testing
Staff working under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be dangerous, not just to themselves, but their fellow workers and the organisation’s reputation.
Major events, such as the forthcoming Melbourne Cup, are times when more workers test positive for drugs the next day. With October being National Safe Work Month, we are reminded how substance use and abuse play a significant role in work-related injuries and fatalities.
“Australian businesses are losing an estimated $6 billion annually due to substance use-related productivity issues and 7.5% of hospital morbidity is related to alcohol consumption in the workplace,” said Jaka Exstrada, Business Development Manager from Andatech, an Australian supplier of drug and alcohol testing equipment. “This abuse also contributes to adverse productivity outcomes such as absenteeism, lateness, a decrease in attention span, poor coordination, difficulty in comprehension and slower reaction time.”
Many employers who want to carry out tests but cannot justify having an in-house drug and alcohol testing regime for random testing, post-incident and emergency testing are turning to third-party testing, which is becoming more readily available.
This outsourced testing is more affordable and can be customised for each organisation, tailoring the level of equipment, the frequency and the volume of drug and alcohol testing to suit their requirements.
“Organisations may not realise that on-site drug testing services, either urine or oral, can be set up for as little as one person per year,” said Exstrada. “In addition, they can also opt for education and awareness presentations and inductions, and policy and procedure development.
“Third-party testing is ideal for smaller businesses who want to comply with workplace health and safety but would prefer a professional with experience in testing to undertake the tests. The testing service can also deal with awkward situations and it doesn’t hinder relationships between employees.”
Testing improves employee compliance
One Melbourne manufacturer that commenced testing earlier this year has seen the incidence of positive readings halved from an average of 6% to 3%. The improvement is expected to continue as staff realise they can’t get away with it.
The purpose of this company’s testing regime is to prevent staff from arriving at work still under the influence of drugs or alcohol as they are putting themselves and others at risk from injury or worse. To this end, various types of testing are conducted including random testing and special days testing when people are more likely to give a positive result, such as the day after Melbourne Cup Day or Australia Day.
Some companies also conduct pre-employment tests, incident tests and for-cause tests where they suspect someone may be under the influence.
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