Workplace Drug Testing Doubles

Employers are becoming more aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol in the workplace as well as the benefits of testing for them. Recent statistics show that workplace drug testing in New Zealand has almost doubled in the past 12 months, particularly in the agriculture, construction, transportation, food processing, retail, and government sectors. Rick Lewer, the managing director for Drug Testing Services’ Manawatu division, says the growing popularity of workplace drug testing is the result of employers increasingly recognizing the benefits of testing. “It should reduce workplace accidents, lower staff turnover, increase productivity, and even raise staff moral,” said Lewer. He also noted that workers who test positive for drugs and alcohol are almost four times as likely to be involved in workplace accidents. While the number varies from company to company, 10 to 20% of employees will test positive, with marijuana being the most common drug present, followed by methamphetamine. Most companies currently use a three-pronged approach to deal with a staff member who tested positive: warning, rehabilitation plan and/or dismissal. Random testing may be carried out only where it is expressly provided for in a company’s alcohol and drug policy.

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