Drug and Alcohol Testing Issues for Agricultural Workers

Farm workers in New Zealand and Australia’s valuable sheep industry are currently facing the possibility of undergoing mandatory drug testing. According to Brian Duggan of the National Farmer’s Federation, agricultural workers across the world are watching legal cases that deal with how much right an employer has to know what goes on in a worker’s private life, including issues of drug testing. Farming is different from other high-risk industries that have mandatory testing because many isolated farms may not have access to reliable testing facilities. Despite these obstacles, other officials within the sheep shearing industry say that they expect random alcohol and drug testing to continue to spread from the “elite level” of sporting shearers to the workplace at farms. The initiative has also gained support from members of the Australian Workers Union who say that drug use can be a major hazard in the shearing sheds, with workers sometimes resorting to amphetamine abuse to increase productivity.

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