Drug Test: The Importance in New Zealand Workplaces
29 November, 2023
Drug use is a prevalent issue in society, and its impact extends to many settings, like the workplace. It affects the health, safety, and productivity of individuals. Hence, a drug test has become an increasingly important tool in New Zealand to minimise its associated risks. This method looks for the presence of illicit drugs in a person. Thus, it can identify impaired individuals and people struggling with substance abuse.
In New Zealand, drug detection has gained significant importance in workplaces as employers seek to ensure the safety of their staff. This is especially critical in high-risk industries like mining, construction, transportation, and healthcare. With regular monitoring, companies can reduce the risk of accidents and substance abuse. Employers can avail of testing services to screen prospective employees and existing staff. This article will explore the significance of drug screening in the workplace, testing methods, and handling positive results.
What is a Drug Test in a Workplace?
A drug test in a workplace is a screening process to determine if employees are using illegal drugs. It is a common practice in safety-sensitive industries to ensure a safe and productive work environment. The test involves collecting biological samples and examining them using screening test kits or laboratory procedures.
Conducting workplace drug screening will depend on the company policy. The policy outlines the situations for testing, substances to be tested for, and consequences for positive results. As such, employers may implement the tests for pre-employment, random, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion cases. Hence, all employees must know the company regulations to avoid violating the policy.
The test screens for a wide range of illicit substances. It includes the common drugs of abuse like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. These substances have adverse effects on the person, leading to impaired judgment, poor coordination, and slow reaction time. It can also identify the possible misuse of prescription medications. By monitoring their uses, employers can make informed decisions regarding workplace safety.
Purpose of the Testing
- Safety and prevention: identify individuals who are under the influence of drugs. The timely detection aids employers to manage the risks before any untoward incident occurs.
- Deterrence: consistent monitoring discourages individuals from drug abuse. Employees are less likely to engage in such activities for fear of being caught.
- Productivity: drug screening helps maintain a stable workforce. It reduces absenteeism and tardiness rates as well as lower employee turnover. Similarly, fit and able employees produce high work output.
- Compliance: abide by relevant laws and industry standards. Companies implement the necessary steps to protect the well-being of staff. It also minimises legal liabilities due to accidents.
Different Methods of Drug Tests in a Workplace
Workplace drug test involves several methods. A standard method is urine testing, which involves collecting and analysing the urine of employees. This method is non-invasive and provides quick results. Hence, it is preferred by many organisations due to its ease of administration. Moreover, companies may initially use screening test kits to screen for illicit drugs.
The second common method is saliva testing. It involves swabbing the inside of the mouth to test for drugs. Saliva samples can identify commonly abused drugs within 24 hours after last consumption. This method is reliable and less invasive. Moreover, it is suitable for situations that need immediate results or testing for recent drug use.
Furthermore, blood tests provide the most accurate method of drug detection. It involves drawing blood samples and examining them in a laboratory. It can determine the specific drug type and concentration level. Lastly, some companies may employ hair testing. It can trace substance use for up to 90 days, providing the longest period of detection.
Accuracy and Reliability
Different testing methods have varying levels of accuracy and efficiency. The reliability would depend on the testing device used, including its cut-off level, sensitivity, and specificity. Generally, laboratory testing is more accurate than rapid screening tools. This is because laboratories use advanced technology to analyse the samples.
Nevertheless, various factors can affect the test. This includes improper collection procedures, handling, and transporting of samples. Urine samples are also prone to tampering or adulteration. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that the testing process follows the standard protocols. It is also important to use accredited laboratories or devices.
What to Expect in a Non-Negative Drug Test Result in a Workplace?
A non-negative drug test result is when a biological sample is found to have traces of a prohibited substance. Typically, preliminary screening provides qualitative results and does not measure the exact amount of drug in the system. Thus, non-negative results require further evaluation through laboratory testing. The sample undergoes a more advanced process to determine the exact quantity of the drug present.
After getting the results, employers usually restrict the employee from the work site. This is to prevent the individual from working or operating equipment while under the influence. Consequently, it helps prevent accidents. This measure may also depend on the drug policy. Employees may face disciplinary actions once proven positive for drug use.
Organisations may impose verbal or written warnings, temporary suspension, or termination, depending on the severity of the case. In some situations, employers may offer rehabilitation to individuals with substance use disorders. When dealing with non-negative results, employers need to observe confidentiality procedures. They must also consider various factors before making a final decision.
Can an Employee Request a Confirmatory Testing?
It is advisable for an employee to request confirmatory testing when they receive a non-negative result. This test aims to verify the presence of a prohibited drug and determine its amount. Furthermore, a Medical Review Officer (MRO) evaluates the test to confirm if the presence of the drug is due to consumption or incidental exposure.
The confirmation process is essential to eliminate the possibility of false positives. Testing centres may use advanced procedures like GC-MS (Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry), which are highly accurate methods. Additionally, the result of this test is final and can be used in legal proceedings.
A drug test is an important tool to identify if a person has been abusing illegal or prescription drugs. It involves collecting and analysing biological samples like urine, saliva, blood, and hair to detect substances. This method is beneficial in many workplaces to prevent accidents and ensure the safety and well-being of employees. It also helps maintain productivity and minimise legal risks. Moreover, companies and individuals may use rapid testing kits or laboratory procedures.
The results of the test can have severe consequences. Therefore, it is important to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the procedures. A positive test result can impact employment, such as suspension or dismissal. To minimise false positives and the possibility of legal problems, an employee may request confirmatory testing. This is a vital procedure, especially if a person believes the initial result is inaccurate. Overall, they are cost-effective measures towards a healthy and hazard-free environment.