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Workplace Drug & Alcohol Testing Policy: Not a problem, Until it is

A workplace drug and alcohol testing case study

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, business owners and employers are required to manage safety risks in the workplace.

Conducting drug or alcohol testing at the workplace is a business strategy to manage health and safety risks at work. The workplace and alcohol tests can be conducted randomly, voluntary or for a specific reason. Before conducting any test, it is essential to ensure that the tests fulfil the requirements of the Australian Health Standards.

If your organisation has never had to deal with drugs and alcohol at the workplace, then the idea of introducing a workplace drug and alcohol policy may seem a bit unnecessary – maybe even overkill. But what happens when such a problem does arise? If you do not have a framework in place, it makes it very difficult, almost impossible, to navigate.

We were asked to conduct an alcohol breath test on a worker because the manager could smell alcohol on his breath. The worker was relatively new to the organisation but had quickly earned a reputation as a “drinker”. By subjecting this worker to alcohol testing at the workplace, the owner believed it would send a signal that they were “serious” about not drinking at work.

The problem was this workplace did not have a drug and alcohol testing policy in place and had never conducted testing before. As such, they had not made it clear to this employee, or to anybody else, what the company’s expectations were around alcohol and drugs at work. If the worker did not know, how could the worker possibly comply?

So, first things first. We advised the owner to set out his expectations around drugs and alcohol in a clear, easy to understand the policy. At the very least, the policy should let people know the company’s expectations and their obligations around drugs and alcohol when presenting for work. The policy also detailed under what circumstances drug and alcohol testing would occur and the consequences of positive results.

Once the policy was set, we suggested he clearly communicate it, ensuring all staff sign off on their understanding and agreement. By providing this policy training for all staff, the owner sent a very clear signal he was “serious” around not drinking at work. He also paved the way for a smooth introduction of drug and alcohol testing in his workplace.

We have supported many organisations, large and small, with the introduction of a drug and alcohol policy, and a testing regime to reduce their workplace safety risks. If your organisation needs assistance getting started or revising a drug and alcohol program, get in touch with DASA today on 1300 230 231 or email


DASA (Drug and Alcohol Solutions Australia) is proud to be leading the way in workplace drug and alcohol services throughout Australia. Whether your need is for workplace drug testing and workplace alcohol testing, advice on drug and alcohol policy or ideas on how to communicate your workplace expectations, policies and procedures to your staff, DASA can help. We have the experience, technical expertise and people to lead you to the right solution.


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