Drug test­ing shows in­dus­try tak­ing safety se­ri­ously

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - News -

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.

T&D

“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

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