Abstract 01

The Role of Testing in Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policies

Lindsay Hadfield

Policy & Education Consultant, Medscreen, Harbour Quay, Prestons Road, London, E14 9PH, England

Organisations are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that they take the issues of workplace health and safety seriously. In addition, they need to acknowledge their role in society, reflecting both local community and wider national interests.

The impairment effects associated with the use of drugs and alcohol - loss of co-ordination, slow reaction times, or hyper-activity, impatience and increased risk taking - are unacceptable in the working environment. However the workplace can provide an excellent opportunity for education, and provide routes to help for those individuals who may be developing problems with their use of drugs and alcohol.

The wide acceptance and availability of drugs and alcohol means that stringent measures are required to make a drug and alcohol policy effective. Testing provides the answer. The deterrent effect of testing sits comfortably within a clear policy on the use of drugs and alcohol, and it makes people sit up and take notice of the message conveyed by the policy - the inappropriate use of drugs and alcohol is not acceptable.

However, testing will only be of value if reliance can be put on the results. Analytical methods handled by professionals and supported by evidential Chain of Custody give a drug testing programme security that should not be sacrificed for apparent simplicity, speed, and economy.

Increasing demand for testing has led to an increasing number of suppliers, not all of whom are able to support the investment needed to provide legally defensible results. The purchaser needs to ask questions to establish the service provider's credibility.

Testing for alcohol and drugs remains the most objective way of demonstrating that a company does not have a problem with these substances. For the deterrent to be effective, the people subject to testing must believe that it does work. Drug users must be aware that the system used by their employer will detect drug use. Other employees must have confidence that they will not be falsely accused, and that users will be deterred. Auditors must believe that the drug testing programme and its resulting certificates give a true picture.



Medscreen specialises in providing services for workplace drug and alcohol policies. As Policy and Education Consultant for Medscreen, over the past ten years Lindsay has worked with many companies across a wide range of industry sectors to help them introduce and implement drug and alcohol policies that include testing. She has discussed policy implications with managers, supervisors, union representatives, staff councils, and, most importantly, with employees.

Lindsay is a requested speaker at conferences as diverse as the European Business Forum, the UK Freight Transport Association, and the International Marine Purchasing Association. She has given evidence on workplace drug testing to the UK Parliament's all party committee on drug abuse, and contributes advice to the many industry associations that are developing guidelines for their members, for example an ILO Inter-Regional Meeting of Experts on Drugs and Alcohol in the Maritime Industry in Geneva, and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers

EWDTS ® 2021, The European Workplace Drug Testing Society
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