16 Jan Health Monitoring and Drug Testing
Why should a business have to do this?
Apart from the PCBU’s obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, it is a good investment of resources, especially if you:
- value the skills and expertise that your employees bring to your business, and
- the shortage of qualified, skilled, experienced and competent workers in New Zealand.
Pre- and post- drug testing
(Pre- = pre-employment and post- = following an accident/incident)
Pre- and post- drug testing and health monitoring are practices that are now widely accepted in the New Zealand workplace and are now the norm for many businesses.
One of the issues that does arise in several safety critical (high risk) workplaces is the application of random drug testing and annual medical monitoring.
Can this be carried out at random or are there protocols to follow?
There certainly are, if a business does not want to find itself in an employment or legal dispute.
It is recommended that the business seeks professional help and develops its policies, systems and procedures to manage this. All managers should also be trained in their application, so the systems can be applied fairly, in good faith and in a consistent manner.
To ensure that all new and existing employees are made aware of the company’s stance and policy on the subject, it is recommended that the company’s requirement for:
- Pre-employment drug and health testing;
- Health testing and monitoring; and/or
- Drug and alcohol testing
is included in the following employment documents:
- The company’s health, drug and alcohol policy;
- Position advertisement;
- Application for employment;
- Employment agreement;
- Reinforced in the company’s induction information; and
- Staff meetings.
Note: The company policy and supporting procedures should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure they are inline with any new legislation, case law. or business practice.
It is also recommended that the company implement policies that medical, and drug and alcohol testing are also undertaken:
- At exit
- After a serious harm event
Safety sensitive/critical working area and random drug testing
Random drug testing can only apply where there are predetermined “safety sensitive” work areas.
A “safety sensitive” working area is an area where if a role or function is carried out wrongly by an employee, or the employee is actually or potentially exposed to a physical or mental cause of harm, the harm could inflict harm upon the employee, other employees, contractors, and/or customers.
Safety sensitive jobs include the use of heavy machinery, operating public transport, long haul driving, flying, dealing with hazardous chemicals, and any other workplace activity or risk/hazard that has been risk rated to identify the level of risk associated with the activity.
The lack of attention to this workplace safety issue could result in significant injury to the employee and others in the area. It can also negatively impact the company’s financial position and/or any previously gained goodwill in the area within which the company operates.
It is recommended that any new employees hired to work in safety sensitive positions must submit to regular drug and alcohol testing, as well as testing that occurs after an incident or accident.
The right to test
It is only right to test an employee in exceptional cases where the knowledge of drug use would prevent harm and where ‘probable cause’ exists for believing an employee poses a threat. Furthermore, there must be a ‘clear and present danger with reference to the job type.
It is important that this is not an “off the cuff” process – your managers who carry this out must be trained, have the documented processes, and records are to be made of the observations.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact Hasmate today.