Safety Institute of Australia

Why testing is not the solution to alcohol and drug use in the workplace

HEALTH & WELLBEING
22 May 2019
10:30 - 10:50
ICC SYDNEY

Why testing is not the solution to alcohol and drug use in the workplace

Testing is a frequently used contemporary and controversial strategy to managing alcohol and drug use affecting the workplace. It raises issues about privacy, the role of the workplace in influencing non-work activities and the role of impairment. We argue that testing is of limited value unless it is integrated into broader systematic responses that manage the risk at the source and acknowledge the contribution that workplace factors can play in either minimising or amplifying risk. Empirical research supports that integrated risk management practices can be effective in improving awareness of the risks, facilitate help seeking behaviours and reduce consumption.

The overwhelming majority of people who use alcohol and drugs are employed, making alcohol and drug issues a significant concern for workplaces, particularly in high risk industries Alcohol and drug use are associated with significant productivity and safety costs due to presenteeism and absenteeism Testing identifies recent drug use but does little to assist in managing the problem unless integrated into whole person, whole of workplace systematic management responses.