Best practice in your random drug and alcohol testing program

In a recent blog post we covered random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace and how to create an effective deterrent effect. So to follow on from this we are going to cover how to ensure best practice in your random testing program.

1Appoint a quality accredited independent drug and alcohol testing provider to manage the testing program. This allows employer impartiality, and affords greater privacy and confidentiality for your employees.

2Continue to remind your employees they may be subject to random alcohol and drug testing. This is best achieved by conducting education / awareness presentations and displaying posters in your workplace with the relevant messages.

3You are within your rights to conduct incident and causal testing following incidents or even “near misses”. Remind your employees of this through your education / awareness presentations and do not be afraid to take action when appropriate. This serves as a further deterrent.

4A random testing program is all about deterrent and the perceived likelihood of being tested. This means the risk of random selection is more important than how often a particular individual is actually tested. If “John” is aware random testers are on site twice in a month he is also aware he is at risk of being selected twice.

5Wherever operationally possible authorise your independent testing provider to attend your sites with no advance warning to ensure integrity of the process and maximum effectiveness of the drug testing program.

6High frequency of site visits with a lower volume of testing is far more effective in creating a deterrent than the low frequency of site visits with high test volume.

7Ensure all employees, contractors and visitors on site are included on the list of those who could be selected for random testing.

We like to use the term layers of randomness, of which there are four.

This means your employees do not know the date we will attend, the time we will attend, which section / department of your site will be selected or who will be selected.”

An example

A workplace commenced a random testing program following several incidents throughout their sites around Australia involving employees affected by Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD).

However, their head office management team set procedures in place requiring their independent testing providers to give each site manager 24 hours’ notice prior to attending. After several months of conducting random testing, there had been no recorded positive test results for alcohol or illegal drugs. This was not the expected outcome considering the evidence of AOD issues around their sites.

The workplace began to suspect their site managers were warning their employees of pending random testing visits. The decision was made to no longer give 24 hours’ notice with the testing providers authorised to attend at any time without warning. In the first month following the new procedure, multiple positives to alcohol and / or illegal drugs were recorded around Australia, with some of the positives being recorded by site managers themselves.

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