Abstract 02

Workplace Drug Testing: the Esso/Exxon ten years' experience

Patrick Constant

ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical, Machelen, Belgium

Esso France as all Exxon affiliates in the world, is committed to a safe, healthy and productive workplace for all employees. The Corporation - recognizing that alcohol and drug abuse by employees will impair their ability to perform properly and will have serious adverse effects on the safety, efficiency and productivity - has decided, ten years ago, to implement an Alcohol and Drug Policy. Based upon national data and the results of specific studies in USA and France, the author explains the rational of workplace testing implementation in a global company. Through a ten year experience, the key factors of success are analyzed:

  1. Alcohol and Drug Policy comes within framework of Safety Policy/Programs.
  2. Alcohol and Drug Policy is clearly understood and accepted by all employees and trade unions.
  3. Work place testing is in complete compliance with local legal requirements and medical ethics.
  4. Quality assurance/chain of custody drive all the procedures, guidelines, sample collection and testing process.
  5. Drug testing is focussed on designated positions defined according to the following criteria - Exposure of employees to catastrophes, public or environmental incident
    • Key and direct role in operating process where failure could cause a catastrophic incident.
    • No direct or very limited supervision readily available to provide operational checks.
  6. The Occupational Health service is a key factor to the success. Main Occupational Health support roles are in:
    • Perform mandatory neutral examinations
    • Perform or recommend collection Procedures/Providers
    • Select and Quality secure testing laboratories
    • Conduct medical review officer reviews
    • Conduct After Care and Rehabilitation Programs

The total result of employee positive tests are represented from 1994 to 1998 - inside and outside the US. A total of 16.265 employees A&D Tests were conducted in 1998. Twenty-eight employees were positively tested; these positive cases resulted in a positive rate of 0,18%. The annual rate and number of positive tests are the lowest reported since worldwide testing was implemented. Marijuana was detected in 47% of the 28 positive tests in 1998. In the US marijuana (38%) was the substance mostly detected, followed by cocaine (23%). Outside US, marijuana (57%) was followed by alcohol (36%) and cocaine (7%).

A workplace drug test must always come within the framework of the Safety Policy/Program. The Implementation of an A&D Policy requires a complete agreement of all the actors: employees, trade union and management. The occupational health service must play a major role as expert and guarantor for medical confidentiality and ethics. The drug abuse issue in workplace, even if it is limited, must be managed to assure to all employees a safe, healthy and productive workplace.



Dr. Constant received his PHD in medicine at the Toulouse University in 1975. In the same year he has been awarded with the Toulouse University's Award. He received the Occupational Medicine Certificate at the Paris University in 1977. Occupational Physician at Esso France over the period 1978-1991, and Occupational Health Manager at Esso/Exxon Chemical France from 1991 to 1999. Since April 1999 he is working as Medicine & Occupational Health Manager at the Shared Service Center, Europe/Africa/Middle East, of the ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical.

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