Drug testing shows industry taking safety seriously
AT THE DRUG DETECTION AGENCY WE’RE seeing employers in the transport industry taking workplace safety seriously. We’re seeing significant buy-in from companies that desire drug and alcohol-free workplaces. We’re seeing it in the requests for testing policies, practices and services and in results coming from our testing partner, Omega Labs.
The biggest trends we’re seeing, are that drug testing results in the transportation industry are improving and there are some very encouraging patterns emerging.
While our 2018 data is clearly incomplete, we can say that the transportation industry – in relation to the levels, type and results of drug and alcohol testing – appears to be in better shape than other industries with safety-sensitive workforces.
Transportation companies have been putting their money where their mouths are – and are making efforts to keep the roads and the people on them safer. The policies that are going into place are more robust, whether that’s pre-employment testing or post-incident testing. Drivers and other transportation staff also seem to be getting a better understanding of what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviours.
To get a little technical, I think it’s worth noting that non-negative testing in the industry is trending down. A non-negative is where a test specimen indicates traces of a drug might be present, but further lab testing is required for confirmation. This simply means we’re not sending samples to the lab as much as we used to. That’s great praise for truckers.
To me, this indicates a safer workforce on the road and it shows that fleet operators are making workplace safety a priority. When I look at how the year is trending, our internal TDDA information tells me that the industry is improving its drug and alcohol policies and testing practices, and it’s making a difference.
Operators are turning to random drug testing, which is a big deterrent to substance abuse, and one of our most common forms of testing. At TDDA we see companies relying on random testing as both a deterrent, and a way to identify risky individuals.
Reasonable-cause testing, random, and post-incident testing are in wide use, and that tells me that employers and employees are understanding the impacts of drug use in the workplace.
Transportation operators continue to opt for pre-employment drug testing, which provides a risk assessment of the potential candidate. This form of testing, which happens prior to an applicant being awarded a job, ensures the right people are operating vehicles on New Zealand roads.
Drug testing is now a vital part of the pre-employment due diligence process for most safety-sensitive industries, and the transportation industry is making great use of the process to ensure the right people are behind the wheels of their light and heavy vehicles.
Pre-employment testing aims to stop drug issues from entering the workplace. Employers love it because, along with a policy discussion, it details clearly what are acceptable employee behaviours before the first day of work even starts. It helps create a culture of safety within a company.
Pre-employment testing was taken on by the industry some years ago and has remained a staple for those making employment decisions. They know that pre-employment testing drives home the point that a workplace will not tolerate improper use of drugs and alcohol.
Businesses are getting more savvy at identifying high-risk drivers on the road, and team members are realising they can’t get away with drug or alcohol use while operating in a safety-sensitive industry.
When it comes to the actual drugs we’re seeing, the trends might not be what you think. What you hear on the radio or see on TV might not match what we’re seeing at TDDA. That said, cannabis is still king.
It’s also no surprise that methamphetamine, more commonly known as P, continues to be a scourge on NZ and is a growing issue. We all need to do our part to identify and stop the use of meth entering the workplace – it ’s a major problem for more than just safetysensitive industries. But the biggest non-cannabis drugs we see aren’t methamphetamines. They are opioids.
These represent both illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl and prescription medicines such as Tramadol and Oxycodone – and they are showing up, prescription or otherwise, at a much faster rate than people may realise.
While we can’t tell if the drugs are illicit or prescribed, we really need to start recognising that opiate-based drugs are a very real and fastgrowing problem for safety-sensitive industries.
At TDDA we think this drug group isn’t being taken seriously enough. Opiates are a major issue in places like the United States and
Australia, and they’re on the rise here too. Thankfully, the transportation industry is on the right track to keep these substances off the roads.
While it’s too early to know what the rest of 2018 will hold, at TDDA we believe that the testing practices being used, and the results we are seeing, show an extremely positive outlook and reflect well on the transportation industry.
It’s really encouraging to see the emphasis that the industry is putting on workplace safety. It tells us that the industry recognises that developing appropriate drug and alcohol policies and comprehensive drug testing regimes is a critical tool to ensure safer roads and ultimately, protect people’s lives.
“We all need to do our part to identify and stop the use of meth entering the workplace”
Pre-employment testing aims to stop drug issues from entering the workplace and helps to create a culture of safety within a company
The Drug Detection Agency’s chief executive Kirk Hardy