Information Package

This comprehensive package is designed to assist all workplace stakeholders make a more informed decision when using the drug testing services of LaneWorkSafe.

Creating an educated workplace environment where everyone recognises the safety and health risk associated with Alcohol and other Drug abuse.

At LaneWorkSafe we are about “new beginnings”. We believe that people with dependency issues, or addictions, need to be seen in a compassionate light. Through assistance and the right help, we believe that many of these addictions can be managed and treated.

Working together with business large and small, we can help improve the workplace for all stakeholders.

LaneWorkSafe seeks to make the workplace safer, through education and training of all staff, including supervisors and managers.

Illegal drugs, and some legal drugs, are a major problem to our society. The impact of these drugs can be seen in the workplace.

We provide your organisation with the skills to formulate a suitable, tailor made Alcohol and other Drugs Policy that fits your company’s specific needs.

Unfortunately, some in society selling, distributing or using illegal drugs have a different value base. We believe it is reasonable to assume that these types are found in workplaces that do not have an Alcohol or other Drugs Policy.

At LaneWorkSafe we believe that a fair, clear Alcohol and other Drugs Policy, with each member of the organisation fully understanding their rights, obligations and duty of care to one another, allows the workplace to be more productive, safer, healthier and competitive.

The Law

1. Primary Duty of Care

In the workplace there are various laws governing the relationship between employees and employers. Many of these laws, including those related to WHS, have developed from common law principles.

Duty of care is a common law principle that dates back to the master-servant relationship. It requires each person to take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to others and applies when there is some relationship of control between the parties, for example master-servant, employer-employee, manufacturer-consumer and teacher-student.

Current Work Health and Safety legislation extends the concept of duty of care by imposing statutory obligations to ensure health and safety. It also provides for penalties and prosecutions without the need to demonstrate negligence or actual harm.

2. Work Health and Safety Act 2011 No 10 Division 2 – Primary Duty of Care

19. Primary duty of care

(1)  A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of:

(a)  workers engaged, or caused to be engaged by the person; and

(b)  workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the person;

while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking.

(2)  A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.

(3)  Without limiting subsections (1) and (2), a person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:

(a)  the provision and maintenance of a work environment without risks to health and safety; and

(b)  the provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures; and

(c)  the provision and maintenance of safe systems of work; and

(d)  the safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures and substances; and

(e)  the provision of adequate facilities for the welfare at work of workers in carrying out work for the business or undertaking, including ensuring access to those facilities; and

(f)  the provision of any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking; and

(g)  that the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace are monitored for the purpose of preventing illness or injury of workers arising from the conduct of the business or undertaking.

(4)  If:

(a)  a worker occupies accommodation that is owned by or under the management or control of the person conducting the business or undertaking; and

(b)  the occupancy is necessary for the purposes of the worker’s engagement because other accommodation is not reasonably available;

the person conducting the business or undertaking must, so far as is reasonably practicable, maintain the premises so that the worker occupying the premises is not exposed to risks to health and safety.

(5)  A self‑employed person must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, his or her own health and safety while at work.

For more information read the Australian Government 2011 Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

What is a drug-safe workplace?

A workplace or employment setting where all employees adhere to a program of policies and activities designed to provide a drug-safe workplace.

Where alcohol and drug abuse is discouraged and the organization encourages treatment, recovery and return to work for those employees with such abuse problems. A workplace that encourages employee’s to voluntarily come forward and disclose their dependency, without fear of victimisation or punitive action, knowing they will receive fair and proper treatment.

1. What are the characteristics of an effective, comprehensive Drug-Safe Workplace Program?

  • Active, visible leadership and support of the program by the employer
  • Clear LaneWorkSafe policies and procedures that are applied uniformly such as implementing LaneWorkSafe policies and procedures
  • Employee involvement in policy development
  • Management, supervisors and employees are knowledgeable and their responsibilities under the LaneWorkSafe policies are clear
  • Methods of identifying alcohol and drug abusers, including drug testing, for the purpose of providing the opportunity for treatment, recovery and the return to work
  • Access to treatment and follow-up for employees who are experiencing abuse problems

2. What issues does a LaneWorkSafe Policy cover?

It is beneficial and lawful that both the employer and the employee have a program and policy in place designed to reduce and eliminate the negative effects of alcohol and drug abuse and to provide a safe workplace. LaneWorkSafe can design a policy that:

  • Explains why the product or service provided by the client is inconsistent with employee alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace and detracts from the corporate image portrayed
  • Provides information about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse
  • Clearly defines what kind of assistance will be provided to substance abusers who voluntarily report their abuse problems or have been identified as a drug or alcohol abuser through other means
  • Spells out the roles, rights and responsibilities for employees, managers and supervisors under the program
  • Describes the sanctions which apply for infringement of the policies
  • Seeks to assure personal privacy and dignity in reaching the goals of a LaneWorkSafe workplace
  • Provides for training and education throughout the workplace
  • Outlines procedures for drug testing, on a controlled and monitored basis, including specifying the nature, frequency and type of testing that will be performed and the types of drugs for which employees will be tested

3. How is Policy developed?

With the introduction of any new policy, thorough assessment and consultation is the first step. No two workplaces are the same and no two employers can take the same approach to addressing alcohol and other drug abuse.

Initially, LaneWorkSafe will draft a policy to help meet your company needs. Consultation with WHS committee members, supervisors and managers will be used in developing the draft. All consultations offers an avenue for employees to offer practical ideas and so help build a well-rounded policy. Consensus in policy development encourages more willingness to comply.

Facts & Figures

The cost to Australian society of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug misuse in the financial year 2004/05 was estimated at $56.1 billion, including costs to the health and hospitals system, lost workplace productivity, road accidents and crime.

Flinders University drug and alcohol expert Dr Ken Pidd analysed data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, found there was ice use among all occupations, but it was more prevalent in some fields. He said "2.3 per cent of the workforce have used methamphetamine at least once in the last 12 months, and that equates to about 230,000 people." And that is just ice, not marijuana or alcohol or other drugs.

When the effects of alcohol abuse are added, the result is a large, impaired portion of the national workforce. For the typical employer, this may mean unhealthy and at risk, employees, unsafe work conditions, loss of productivity, smaller profits, more accidents, theft and fraud, high staff turnover, high WorkCover premiums and a host of other negative effects for the employer and the employee.

In workplaces across the country employers are looking at practical ways to address alcohol and other drugs abuse. Employers want to meet the health needs of their employees and control WorkCover premiums. Most importantly, employers are asking for clear, simple steps for planning effective drug-free workplace programs.

LaneWorkSafe are specialists in providing this comprehensive service.

There is no place for alcohol or other drugs in the workplace.

  • The National Drug Survey showed that 39.3% of the population had tried cannabis; 8.7% amphetamines; 10% hallucinogens; 2.2% heroin and 3.9% inhalants. Illegal drugs were used most often by people in the 20-34 year age range.
  • The National Drug Strategy Survey found over 91% of people oppose proposals to legalise the personal use of heroin, amphetamines and cocaine.
  • According to the Drug Use Monitoring Australia (DUMA) survey there is a very strong link between opiate use and property crimes. The survey found very high levels of illicit drug use among people who are detained in police lock-ups for driving offences, crimes of violence and disorder offences.
  • In each area sampled in the DUMA survey, three quarters of detainees had urine samples which tested positive to one or more illicit drugs.
  • In the DUMA survey, 70% of males detained for a violent offence tested positive to an illicit drug; 86% of males detained for a property offence tested positive to an illicit drug – half of them to opiates.
  • Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug and is part of 67% of all drug-related offences.
  • The use and availability of amphetamine-type substances continues to increase in Australia. After cannabis, they are the most frequently used illicit drug. Ecstasy is the most frequently used amphetamine.
  • According to the Australian Illicit Drug Report, and despite the best efforts of police, the war against drugs is failing, with only a small percentage of heroin being seized. It also points out that other drugs – cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines – are also freely available, particularly in Sydney.
  • In the 1980s, 34,000 people were addicted to heroin, most in their late 20s and 30s; heroin was expensive, 10% pure, hard to find and usually injected; there were few rehabilitation programs. In 2000, there were 74,000 addicts and up to 300,000 casual users.
  • Several studies conducted by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research have found a ‘strong’ relationship between frequent cannabis use by young people and criminal offences.

1. Data Sources

A large proportion of the data mentioned below was sourced from 2010-2015 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDHSHS) managed by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare.

2. Alcohol consumption in Australia

  • In 2014-15, 80.6% of Australians aged 18 years and over had consumed alcohol in the past year. More males had consumed alcohol in the past year (85.6%) than females (75.7%).
  • Two-thirds (66.2%) of all 15-17 year olds had never consumed alcohol, an increase from 2011-12 when around half (49.1%) of all 15-17 year olds had never consumed alcohol. (0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15) 

3. Other Facts and Figures

Studies have suggested that :

  • Organised crime costs 4% of gross domestic product, or $1,000 a year to each Australian. (Australian Institute of Criminology Research and Public Policy document series No. 22)
  • 6.7 tonnes of heroin is consumed per year in Australia (See above)
  • 16 Australians die every week because of illegal drugs (Working Paper No. 81 Kathryn Heiler – University of Sydney 2002)
  • About 80% of those in prison are there for drug-related offences
  • Seizure of drugs fails to capture about 90% of the drugs coming into the country
  • The law has little effect on drug use. There is no significant difference in cannabis use between Australian States where it is a criminal offence and States and Territories where it is decriminalised
  • 7 out of 10 illegal drug arrests are of drug users

Alcohol and other Drug(s) abusers are:

  • 3.6 times more likely to be involved in accidents
  • 5 times more likely to file workers compensation claims
  • 3 times more likely to be late for work
  • 2.4 times more likely to require early dismissal
  • 2.5 times more likely to use excessive sick leave entitlements (8 days or more)

Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that half a million people experience a work related injury or illness every year and more than 15 serious injuries occur every hour.

There are estimates that more than 2,000 Australians lose their lives in workplace accidents or through work related disease each year. This terrible statistic means Australia’s death toll from work is higher than the national road toll which stands at less than 1700 deaths a year, which is more than five deaths per day. It is not intended to infer that these deaths are all related to drug or alcohol abuse. However, it could be agreed that these deaths are a concern to each and every fair minded Australian.

Managers & Supervisor Role

1. Responsibilities

  1. Know your organisation policy review your organisations written drug-safe workplace policy. If you don’t have a copy, ask your employers for one. Be familiar with what the policy permits and prohibits’ and the penalties for violating the policy.
  2. Be prepared to explain the policy to employees as a manager or supervisor you may be asked to explain the drug-safe workplace policy to other employees. Be prepared to answer questions. Most of your employees will welcome a drug-safe program, and they will have questions in the beginning. Below are some of the typical questions you may be asked:
    • What drugs are not allowed?
    • Is alcohol allowed?
    • What action or behaviour is not allowed (selling or using)?
    • What happens if someone infringes upon the company policy?
    • Are we going to be drug tested?
    • How accurate are the drug tests?
    • What happens if I refuse to take a drug test?
    • What happens if someone provides a non-negative result?
    • Is counselling or treatment available?
    • Is my union involved?
    • Is the WHS committee involved?
    • Do managers get tested too?

    It is always best to be ready with the answers. Your organisation’s LaneWorkSafe policy and staff education programs will cover all these questions and many more.

  3. Know your role as a manager or supervisor you are in a unique position to play a major part in a successful drug-safe workplace program. You will need to know how to identify and address employee job performance problems. Always keep in mind that while some problems may be related to alcohol and other drugs, others are not.Your role is to observe and help improve employee job performance, to document work problems and successes, and to effectively implement your organisations LaneWorkSafe policies and programs. You are not expected to diagnose alcohol or other drug abuse or to provide treatment or counselling services to employees with job performance problems.Rather, your role is to conduct evaluations of job performance problems.Your company will have a comprehensive employee assistance program (EAP) either established by the company or by LaneWorkSafe. Talk to your employer or Human Resource Manager to make sure you understand what is expected of you regarding the organisation’s EAP.

2. How can a manager or supervisor be part of a successful drug-safe workplace program?

The following steps can help you identify and handle employee performance problems:

  1. Be attentive the sooner a problem is identified, the sooner it can be corrected, especially when dealing with alcohol and other drugs abuse. It is important to remain alert to any and all job performance problems such as:
    • Rising accident rates
    • Increased absenteeism or tardiness
    • Decreased productivity
    • Deteriorating co-worker relationships

    Although these problems can arise for many reasons, including a variety of personal problems, they may also be signs of alcohol or other drug abuse. Don’t make assumptions about the reason for a problem, your job is to be aware of problems on the job and to make sure that tasks are completed, deadlines are met, and things are running as smoothly as possible. Staying aware of what is happening in your work environment is the first step to doing an excellent job.

  2. Observe suppose you see changes in an employee’s work patterns or performances watch more closely. For example, if you know an employee is making a habit of arriving late, calling in sick a lot, or having mood swings. Consider whether there has also been a drop in productivity or an increase in accidents? Remember, it is not your job to figure out the cause of the problem. Your job is to observe employee behaviour and determine the effects of those behaviours on job performance.Changes in behaviour may be related to alcohol or other drugs abuse; they also may be the result of something else, such as a medical problem like diabetes or high blood pressure. Slurred speech or dizzy spells can be a sign of someone who is high, in need of insulin, or has had a stroke. It is important to call for help if you believe a situation may result in harm to yourself or others. Keep emergency numbers on hand, such as building security, ambulance and EAP provider(s).
  3. Document job performance problems and other work related conduct needs to be documented. This means a written record should be kept that explains what you see. It should include the names of persons involved, the time, the date, what occurred, names of witnesses, and what actions were taken. Documentation should focus on job performance and observations and should not include your opinions.
  4. Problems once you have documented the job performance problem, you should arrange to meet with Human Resources and the employee to discuss what you have seen. Make an appointment at a time and place when you think you will be relaxed and able to discuss the problem without distractions. When job performance problems occur, it is especially important to treat the employee with respect. Your job is to address the performance problem and encourage improvement, not to judge the employee. Be relaxed and maintain a non-judgemental attitude. This will help keep the lines of communication open, solve the problem, and maintain good management-employee relations.
  5. Be Consistent regardless of your personal relationship with an employee, it is important to treat each person the same when addressing job performance and/or conduct problems. This is not always easy to do. By following your organisation’s procedures, you avoid playing favourites with the people you supervise.
  6. Maintain Confidentiality all discussions of an employee’s job problems should be held in private. No one else should be able to hear the conversation. If employees choose to tell co-workers about their private concerns (e.g. results of a drug test), that is their decision. Additionally, when an employee tells you something in confidence, you are obligated to keep it.Be “up front” with the employee at the beginning of the meeting. If your employer requires that you report what will be said, it is important that you inform the employee before you begin the meeting. Remember, you could be sued if you disclose what is said in the meeting without the permission of the employee. Respecting employee confidentiality is critical to developing a trusting relationship with the people you supervise.Alcoholism is a treatable disease. Many people still believe that people with alcohol and other drugs problems drink out of brown paper bags, live on the streets, and/or cannot hold a job. These beliefs are myths. Most alcohol and other drug abusers have nice homes, steady jobs, and do not drink out of brown bags.As a manager, it is important to be aware of your own beliefs about alcoholism and other drug problems so that they do not interfere with your assessment. As with any other managerial responsibility, personal beliefs and prejudices will need to be put aside.
  7. Employees who report to work unfit for duty LaneWorkSafe provides full Fit for Work Training for managers and supervisors. If you are not sure how to manage an employee who reports to work unfit for duty, ask your immediate manager for advice and follow your organisations policy. In general, it is advisable that you have two management staff members verify that the employee is not fit to his or her job. Document the conduct problems as objectively as possible. If there is a human resources or safety person in your organisation, he or she should be notified and consulted about the situation. If all of the management personnel involved decide that the employee is not fit to perform his or her job, the employee should be sent home via taxi or public transportation (depending on fitness) or with a family member, or be escorted home by another staff member. Do not let the employee drive home if he or she is not fit to perform the job. The manager should then decide, based on the organisation’s policy, the disciplinary actions that should be taken.

3. Alcohol or other drug abuse of a boss or supervisor

Alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction are serious illnesses that effect people in all walks of life, in all types of jobs, and of all ages. The issue is especially sensitive when it is your boss who is having a problem with alcohol or other drug abuse. Handling alcohol or other drugs abuse of an employer or another supervisor requires careful thought, and your response will depend on your relationship with them.

It is not advisable to confront the situation on your own. Seek the help of another manager or a professional who can discuss your options, or ask for help from your company EAP. Some ‘addiction’ professionals are trained to help family members and friends learn about intervention – a structured form of offering assistance.

4. What to do if you find illegal drugs at work

Use caution. Review your organisations policy to see if guidelines have been established for how to handle these situations. Do not discard or transport the drugs yourself. Seek the help and guidance of another supervisor or manager. Attempt to have a witness with you. Contact your local police.

Reintegrating an Employee after Treatment

Returning to work after or during treatment for alcohol and other drug abuse can be stressful. You can help lessen this stress by assuring the employee that you will maintain confidentiality.

Employees who return from inpatient treatment or who are enrolled in any type of outpatient treatment program need to know that they will be held accountable for their job performance and conduct. Clear guidelines should be established regarding how the employee’s progress will be monitored. For instance, the employee needs to be informed about periodic follow-up reviews, drug testing (if applicable), and in general, how your organisation will handle their return to work, if the employee was away at an inpatient program.

You may or may not know if an employee is attending an outpatient treatment program. Most employees are able to maintain a regular work schedule while receiving treatment during non work hours. However, sometimes employees will need time off from work to pull themselves together physically, even if they are not hospitalised. If an employee attends an inpatient treatment program, an intensive day treatment program, or any other type of counselling that will interfere with his or her regular work hours, you may need to know more about the situation, such as when and for how long the employee will be away from work.

It is important that you understand what the employee needs are as well as what your employer expects of you in this situation. You will want to be able to support the employee as he or she resolves any performance problems, but you must also ensure that your employer’s expectations are met and that you follow your organisations policy.

1. Back-To-Work Conferences

If the supervisor has been informed about an employee’s inpatient or intensive day treatment process, a back-to-work conference is often scheduled at the time an employee is discharged from treatment. This meeting usually includes the employee, his or her counsellor, and the supervisor or another company representative. Sometimes a union representative will want to be included in the meeting.

The purpose of a back-to-work conference is to ensure that the employee knows the employer’s expectations once the employee returns to work. These expectations are often explained in a written contract that the employee signs. The recommendations of the treatment centre staff are usually incorporated into the contract to ensure that the employee continues to stay free of alcohol or other drugs.

Preventing Workplace Bullying

The Productivity Commission estimating the total cost of workplace bullying in Australia at between $6 billion and $36 billion annually. Incidences of workplace bullying have risen dramatically in recent times affecting many industries. In Australia, it is estimated that 5 – 7% of employees have experienced recent workplace bullying (i.e., within a 6 month timeframe); a further 40% report having experienced workplace bullying earlier in their career. (Centre for Health Initiatives, University of Wollongong, 30 May 2014).

Evidence shows the detrimental health effects of bullying, not only on the victim, but also on those who are witnesses to the behaviours, or who have a close relationship to the victim. There is also a direct cost to the community in terms of increased workers compensation and related medical treatments.

Health and safety legislation calls for employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace that’s free from psychological harm, as well as physical danger. Employers are required to identify and control bullying behaviours, which can lead to workplace illness and injury.

1. What Is Bullying?

Bullying is defined as the repeated less favourable treatment of a person by another or others in the workplace which may be considered unreasonable and inappropriate in workplace practice. It includes behaviour that could be expected to intimidate, offend, degrade, humiliate, undermine or threaten.

Bullying is physical or psychological behaviour or conduct where strength (including strength of personality) and/or a position of power is misused by a person in a position of authority or by a person who perceives that they are in a position of power or authority.

Bullying is normally associated with an ongoing systematic pattern of behaviour. An isolated incident of behaviour is not considered bullying, but may of course lead to action being taken against the perpetrator based on that single incident.

Bullying may be perpetrated by any individual, a work colleague, a supervisor, a more senior manager or a person who reports to the individual who is subject to the alleged bullying. A bully is equally likely to be male or female.

Bullying may be overt or covert.

Overt Bullying

Examples of overt bullying may include:

  • abusive behaviour towards another employee such as threatening gestures or actual violence
  • aggressive or abusive or offensive language, including threats or shouting
  • demeaning remarks
  • constant unreasonable and non-constructive criticism

Covert Bullying

Examples of covert bullying may include:

  • deliberate exclusion, isolation or alienation of the employee from normal work interaction, such as intentionally excluding the employee from meetings
  • placing unreasonably high work demands on one employee but not on others
  • allocation of demeaning jobs or meaningless tasks only
  • unreasonably ignoring the employee
  • undermining another employee, including encouraging others to “gang up” on the employee
  • deliberately withholding information that a person needs to exercise her or his role or entitlements
  • repeated refusal of requests for leave or training without adequate explanation and suggestion of alternatives.

Providing guidance, conducting performance counselling, invoking unsatisfactory performance procedures or misconduct procedures does not in itself constitute bullying. Supervisors and managers are expected to offer constructive advice and comment as part of their role in a way that does not demean or humiliate.

Workplace Fraud

KPMG Corporate conducted a fraud awareness poll of approximately 850 Australian companies. 44% of businesses were aware that they had experienced some kind of fraud over the preceding twelve months period. 66% of that fraud was internal i.e. committed by those within the business or organisation. The vast majority of these recorded instances related to sums of less than ten thousand dollars.

60% of managers rated fraud on their business as a major problem facing them. All organisations must give attention to this problem.

Workplace fraud possesses a number of characteristics that render it easer to commit than ordinary crime and significantly harder to detect.

It is unavoidable that staff must be in a position of trust that grant them access to property and decision making processes capable of abuse. These are the crucial factors to understand when determining a strategy for fraud control.

The KPMG survey also revealed that over 50 per cent of fraud against business was identified as being the result of poor internal controls. There are three important principles in managing fraud control:

  1. Prevention is better than cure
  2. Fraud control is a management function
  3. Accountability makes for committed management.

1. How to achieve an organisation culture of Integrity

The first basic principle is to have a workplace which enables workers to be happy and satisfied. The principles of honesty and integrity should be made plain at every opportunity. A number of strategies can be adopted:

  • Through recruitment. The requirement for integrity and a commitment to honesty in the performance of work can be made plain at the recruitment stage.
  • Training and education. Lectures, circulars, discussion groups, statements of organisational purpose and job descriptions can all reinforce the message that honesty and integrity is highly valued within the organisation.
  • Performance appraisal. Commitment to integrity and honesty in the performance of duties can be made a significant and overt factor in regular performance appraisals.
  • Financial rewards. Bonuses can be paid whether for performance generally or in respect of individual actions that demonstrate a commitment to the principles.
  • Signposting. Statements of organisational purpose and mission can be drawn up in conjunction with employees who will then have a degree of ownership of them.
  • Management should set a good example.
  • There must be clear avenues for wrongdoing to be exposed, and “whistle-blowers” must be encouraged and publicly supported.

Whether the aim is to achieve maximum private sector profit or to perform public sector works at minimum cost the efficient achievement of those objectives will almost preclude fraudulent and dishonest behaviour.

It will therefore be important to:

  • Educate the workplace concerning the overall aims of the business or entity.
  • Treat employees well and involve them in decision-making so that they feel that their opinions are valued and that they are a true part of the overall direction of the organisation.

Equate employee rewards with the organisations rewards so that they can more readily see an identity between their interests and those of the organisation.

Employee Information

1. Facts and Figures

Alcohol and other drug(s) can rob you of everything you have worked so hard for: your health, family and friends. The use and abuse of drugs can result in being arrested, fined and even prison. Sometimes it can also cost you your job.

The cost of alcohol and other drug abuse can be very high. Not only is there a material dollar cost, there are related expenses that must be met by the user, their family, friends or society.

Some of the costs that need to be met include:

  • Doctors bills (you get sick more often)
  • Legal bills and fines
  • Higher insurance premium
  • Lost pay or job
  • Debt

These outgoings are met by:

  • Selling possessions and property
  • Theft – ranging from shop stealing and theft from unknown persons, your employer, family or friends to armed robbery
  • Assault and robbery
  • Fraud
  • Selling possessions
  • Prostitution
  • Break and Enter

A drug culture can quickly develop in a company where a primary user supports his or her habit by distributing a variety of substances to lesser, or secondary, users throughout the company. Within a matter of weeks a strong, profitable company built on a foundation of team work, loyalty and trust can turn into dysfunctional company; where low morale, high staff turnover and reduced profitability exist.

Every fact and figure points to alcohol and other drug(s) abuse as having devastating affects on the user and all those surrounding the person.

There is no place for alcohol or other drugs in the workplace.

2. Patterns of risky alcohol consumption in Australia

  • At all ages, there is greater proportion of the population that drinks alcohol at levels that are of higher risk for short term harm rather than long term harm to their health.
  • Rates of risky drinking in Australia peak amongst young people, and alcohol- related harm is substantial for both adolescents and young adults. Drinking contributes to the three leading causes of death among adolescents – unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide – along with risk-taking behaviour, unsafe sex choices, sexual coercion and alcohol overdose.
  • In 2014-15, 17.4% of adults aged 18 years and over consumed more than two standard drinks per day on average, exceeding the lifetime risk guideline.

3. Alcohol deaths and hospitalisations

  • Chronic disease and injury caused by alcohol has significantly increased over a decade, causing 15 deaths and 430 hospitalisations each day in Australia, according to a 2014 report. The VicHealth and Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education’s Alcohol’s burden of disease in Australia report, released today, shows the number of alcohol-attributed hospitalisations and deaths has increased by 62% since the study was last undertaken a decade ago.
  • 70% of the alcohol caused hospitalisations are male and are due mainly to alcohol dependence, falls, assault and road injuries. Female alcohol caused hospitalisations are due mainly to falls and alcohol dependency.

4. Trends in alcohol related injury and violence

There is strong evidence of an association between the consumption of alcohol and violence (Graham & Homel 2008). Conservative estimates suggest that in 2004–05, the total costs attributable to alcohol-related crime in Australia was $1.7b; the social cost relating to alcohol-related violence (which excludes costs to the criminal justice system) was $187m; and the costs associated with the loss of life due to alcohol-related violent crime amounted to $124m (Collins & Lapsley 2007).

National surveys of alcohol use and victimisation provide further evidence of the impact of alcohol-related violence. According to the National Drug Strategy household Survey (NDSHS), in 2007 approximately:

  • 1 in 4 Australians were a victim of alcohol-related verbal abuse
  • 13 percent were made to feel fearful by someone under the influence of alcohol
  • 4.5 percent of Australians aged 14 years or older had been physically abused by someone under the influence of alcohol (AIHW 2008).

Testing Process

The most common way to test for drugs is a urine test. This involves giving a urine sample which is then either immediately screened through an on-site immunoassay test and/or sent for full laboratory analysis. The initial screening informs the testing officer whether the donor has traces of drug in his/her body or not.

The urine test procedure is fully supported by Australian Standard AS4308:2008. As with any screening there is a small error rate, however, if the initial screening is conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions the results are approximately 99% accurate.

breath test is used to determine the amount of alcohol a donor has in his or her system. The principal of breath analysers is based on Henry’s Law, which states that the concentration of gas in the air immediately above a liquid is proportional to its concentration in liquid.

There are various situations when your employer may ask an employee to take a drug test. These include:

  • Pre-employment Tests: To decrease the chance that a current drug user will be hired, some employers test job applicants at the time of a job offer. The job offer being dependent on a negative drug test result.
  • Random Testing: To discourage drug use amongst all employees, and in some cases to comply with industry legislation, an employer may ask employees to take drug tests at random and unpredictable times.
  • Post-Accident Testing: An employer, and in some industries law enforcement officers, may test employees who have been involved in an accident, near accident or detected unsafe practice to establish if alcohol or other drugs use may be an issue.
  • Return to Work: Where an employee has to take a form of leave due to be being detected for alcohol or other drugs abuse he or she must show clean test results prior to being permitted to return to work.
  • Refusal: A refusal by an employee to a lawful request to submit for an alcohol or other drugs examination is treated the same if the employee returned a positive result.

What type of drugs are being tested?

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Amphetamine (Speed)
  • Methamphetamines (Ecstasy)
  • Opiates (Heroin)

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