Increasing numbers of manufacturing companies are considering the introduction of workforce drug and alcohol testing. However, such test regimes can cause friction between companies and their workers, and lead to workers refusing tests and sites not meeting regulatory compliance. This can reduce productivity or lead to a less safe workplace.
As with any business, it takes time to put together a formal policy - especially over something as complex as drugs and alcohol in the workplace. But once the policy is in place, you need to let the workforce know what the expectations are – not every worker will know all the details of WHS legislation!
To solve this potential conflict, Medvet recommends educating all workers about drugs and alcohol, and your plans to address them. There are two types of education that should be considered for any size of company.
The first is employee awareness. Let your team know how drugs and alcohol impact them: not just accidents or near misses involving machinery and vehicles, but also the short- and long-term impacts.
If you do begin testing, then your workforce should understand the exact process. If they do know what to expect the process will run more smoothly and reduce the hours billed by your testing provider. Your workforce will also spend less time off the job.
Medvet also recommends using sessions to let everyone know policy specifics. If everyone knows your policy, everyone has the opportunity to meet expectations.
The second area for education is at the supervisor level. “Reasonable cause” training can help supervisors spot both the physical and behavioural effects of drugs and alcohol in their teams. Not everyone shows the same signs, so a keen eye is needed to tell if a worker is or has been under the influence, and is potentially making the workplace unsafe.
This kind of training can also help supervisors know how to record their suspicions, how to approach workers they suspect might be unsafe, and how to get workers the appropriate help. It’s not about punishment for using drugs; it’s about staying healthy.
When your workforce understands drugs and alcohol, the testing process becomes easier. Making it easier to test will help make your factory a safer workplace.
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