Seven Steps to a “Successful” Drug Testing Program

“A successful Drug and Alcohol Management Program (DAMP) will incorporate regular random testing, ideally resulting in zero positive test results.”

Colin Thomas, Relevant Drug Testing Solutions

There is a common misconception in workplaces that if you are not detecting alcohol or illegal drugs among your personnel, you no longer need to conduct random testing, or can at least reduce the frequency of testing.

What most people fail to realise is the high frequency of testing is likely the very reason you are getting no positive test results – that is why your employees are presenting fit for work!

You must include alcohol and other drug (AOD) testing frequently to maintain an effective deterrent against misuse of those substances. Independent experts, such as Professor Macdonald Christie of Sydney University, have put this frequency at a minimum average of 1 to 2 random tests per employee per annum.

A successful Drug & Alcohol Management Program (DAMP) will promote a culture of safety around alcohol and other drugs, which is consistently reinforced in your workplace. Ongoing!!

So, what are the seven steps to a successful drug testing program?

  1. Engage an experienced service provider who can manage all aspects of your Drug and Alcohol Management Program.
  2. Develop and implement a policy and procedure free of ambiguity, consistent in its approach and workable for your specific workplace.
  3. Provide an employee assistance program (EAP) for your personnel to access when required. If you do not engage a full time EAP provider, at least identify a professional you can use on a “pay as you go” basis when required.
  4. Provide education/awareness training which emphasises the fitness for work and safety culture you wish to promote. This training should also include a formal induction process to ensure you have records of all personnel adopting the policy and procedure.
  5. Provide an equitable testing program with ongoing random testing at volume and frequency sufficient to create a deterrent effect otherwise known as a “climate of risk”.
  6. Return no positive test results! Yes, a successful DAMP should be focussed upon educating personnel and creating sufficient deterrent to ensure all your personnel present for work, fit to work. If they are free from the effects of alcohol and other drugs then there will be no positive test results. To maintain this, continue testing!
  7. Minimise impact on workplace productivity. Traditionally some alcohol and other drug testing providers would attend a workplace once or twice per year and test everyone in a “blanket” style of testing. This method does not increase deterrent effect and does not represent the best use of your drug testing budget. Ideally testing sessions should be more frequent, such as monthly, and focus on testing a small number of your employees during any one visit.

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