• Philip Aldridge
    18
    You may be interested in the position statement we have just released on cannabis. HASANZ has no position on the upcoming referendum. However, we believe that the Cannabis and Legalisation Control Bill as its currently drafted, risks leaving New Zealand organisations confused and unclear about how to manage cannabis as a legal substance in a work environment.

    We believe that without this work, a significant risk remains of organisations across New Zealand taking an ad hoc and potentially inadequate approach to managing cannabis as an impairment risk. International experience shows that when organisations have a thorough impairment policy in place, and a supportive work culture, they are more likely to be successful in managing cannabis as a legal substance.

    Read more at https://www.hasanz.org.nz/page/Information/
  • Peter Bateman
    175
    FYI this Newsroom piece today is probably the best summary I've seen so far.
  • Chris Anderson
    50
    This is a really interesting article, and this has always been the issue I have had with drug testing. A failed urine test doesn't necessarily show impairment it just shows the presence of the drug metabolites, so the person has used in the past. Saliva testing is a better proxy, though not the best, but probably the best option we have.

    I think a lot of organisations will closely follow the police road side testing and see what approach they take and go from there.

    It's important that organisations realise they're not their to moralise what their staff do outside of work as long as it isn't affecting their work. An impairment approach is an important way of doing this, it also captures other sources of impairment (fatigue, mental health etc)
  • Sheri Greenwell
    191
    I'm not sure if TDDA is still offering their CSI course (Comprehensive Substance Identification), but it was a really structured approach to identifying whether someone was under the influence of a substance and how to identify what type of substance - an approach used in USA with drug enforcement officers, which would also provide concrete support for probable cause testing. Their methodology included some specific assessments that would simply and easily indicate cognitive impairment, which could then be supported with relevant testing to confirm.

    I have long held the view that the core purpose is about impairment, and we are long overdue to develop a suitable and reliable framework for assessing impairment, especially as the same impairment criteria should also be applied to prescription medications and also for making a determination that someone is sufficiently fatigued as to be impaired, since there is already a lot of research indicating that someone who is fatigued may be as impaired as someone who is over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, and yet most organisations don't address adequately fatigue.
  • Steve H
    20
    and yet most organisations don't address adequately fatigue.Sheri Greenwell

    Many organisations actively cause employee fatigue by way of call out rosters that see a service technician work an 8-9 hour working day , head home,only to be called out one or more times during the night, and then have to front up at their normal starting hour for the following days work, and then a repeat of the call out routine the following night.

    Most prescription medications carry warnings about the possibility taking them may cause drowsiness, what is less obvious are interactions between different medications, both prescribed and over the counter.
  • Andrew
    305
    Aside from my view I think this is a totally pointless referendum I shall be voting "yes"

    The issue for me has always been and remains today, an issue of competence to do a job. With the flip side of that coin being impairment that prevents a person from being competent.

    During my (long) work life there have been four consistent impairment problems. And in no particular order they are Alcohol misuse, mental health, attitude and family issues. Way below that are things like fatigue and prescribed medications. Cannabis misuse doesn't really get on the radar - though I accept that may in part be due to its current legal status.

    So, regardless of the results of the referendum I will continue not to have a Drug policy, I won't be doing drug testing and I won't be poking my nose into the private lives of our workers.

    I am fully expecting a plague of parasites trying to sell me drug testing and drug focussed health and safety systems. I saw off those terrible Pre-Qual people and I will see off this next breed as well. I'm sure I'll lbe frustrated by worthies creating 40 page policies and curtain twitchers looking for the next best test.

    Out of it I hope we will treat people as individuals and treat each of their own set of individual circumstances with care and dignity. While not losing sight that our responsibility lies in ensuring our businesses remain productive and our workers as safe as practicable.
  • Steve Fursdon
    1
    This is obviously very topical and is a bit of a minefield.

    I attended a seminar this morning looking at some of the issues that a yes vote would generate for employers in my industry (transport). The summary of that was that if you have a drug use policy in place that there is probably no need to change it as it should cover all drugs.

    In our case we have drug free policies which cover alcohol, marijuana, opiates, party pills, etc. and anything that is likely to impair judgement and reaction times through the intoxication and hangover phases after use. As already noted fatigue is a key factor in any industrial application and when mixed with any drug becomes even more concerning.

    Testing for impairment is difficult, hence the focus is on blood/breath alcohol levels for alcohol, THC for cannabis and presence of "party pills" or opiates in urine or blood. Those tests give an indication that there may be an impairment issue. Random testing, or not, is a risk based decision for individual businesses.

    Saliva swabs for cannabis test use by smoking in the last 3 to 6 hours. Urine in the last 2 to 3 days. Any cannabis or concentrates ingested as cookies, sweets, capsules, etc. won't be picked up by saliva tests. Cannabis concentrates vaped do not produce any herbal fragrances so smell cannot be relied upon as an indicator.

    An interesting takeout for our industry is of course that the other users of the road are an uncontrolled factor and increased use of any drug by the general public increases risk. Drugs (not just cannabis) are an increasing factor in road death statistics.
  • Andrew
    305
    Steve, I'll take a bit of an issue with "Testing for impairment is difficult"

    It really isn't that hard. And its a stepped approach. And an approach where you preferably get the person to admit they have a problem rather than you invasively testing for what might not be a problem - drugs in a system does not = impairment.

    Firstly we are basically creatures of habit. What we do today we'll do tomorrow. So the first thing managers need to look for is a break in that pattern. Lateness for work, slowness of output, lower quality. Down to things like hand eye coordination, balance, movement etc. These give an opportunity to start a chat.

    At the chat you can observe pupil size. (Dilated pupil may be indicative of cannabis related impairment) And are eye movements smooth and focussed. Do they move uncontrolled. The eyes are truly the window to the (impaired) soul.

    If you want to dig a little deeper you can ask them to focus on an object in front of their face and you move the object around and see what the eyes do. Or you just move your own body around a bit and see how the persons eyes react.

    This can be done by anyone - the purpose is just to form an initial view on which to base the next step.

    If you are cheeky you could ask them to stand on two legs, ask them to tilt their head back close their eyes and once they reckon 30 seconds has passed bring their head forward and stay "stop". If they wobble or can't follow the instructions you have a clue.

    I would much sooner we had a "just cause" for taking action against someone. There should be a reason why we interfere with a person. Drug testing should be last resort.

    Rather than drug testing I would much sooner we focussed on formal Impairment Training that covered things like constriction and dilation of pupils, eye convergence and the Romberg Balance test. For those into compliance, or risk adverse in terms of unions, PG etc then a "certification" course would be handy. I'd sign up for that.
  • Steve Fursdon
    1
    Hi Andrew. As I said initially, it is a minefield.

    Personally I think that a pre-employment test is useful and then only test for just cause or strong suspicion is a good regime.

    What I was trying to say was that tests can show someone has taken a drug, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are impaired, or how impaired they are. The linkage to blood alcohol and impairment is stronger perhaps whereas the tests you might do for cannabis are less reliable. The tests you describe for just cause are useful - the difficulty with cannabis is what "the next step" is, and if that's getting a test done, then the jury is still out on how useful the result is likely to be.

    The focus should be on helping people to rehabilitate / get through any addiction that interferes with their ability to keep themselves and others safe. Much of the debate on cannabis reform is on personal rights, but as employers we have a duty of care to everyone in the workplace and to the public if we interact with them.
  • Andrew
    305
    I'm against pre-employment testing as well. But best we leave that for another day.
  • Karen
    6
    "However, we believe that the Cannabis and Legalisation Control Bill as its currently drafted, risks leaving New Zealand organisations confused and unclear about how to manage cannabis as a legal substance in a work environment"

    I'm seeing it every single day. I'm auditing at least 5 companies a week and when we get to the legislation evidence requirements there is always a discussion around the impact on their business, around this. At this stage, I've yet to meet a client who will be voting yes, purely because they don't know what that will mean for them and their workers or don't like where they think it's going. I don't have the time to go into all the details with them during the audit process, so we definitely need some resources for those business owners. I'm recommending they talk to TDDA so I hope that's the best direction for them and I'm doing the right thing.
  • Robb
    11
    We legalised prostitution in 2003; I am pretty sure there has not been a proliferation of prostitutes standing in every street corner since then. The Prostitution Reform Act decriminalised prostitution and established a legal framework around the sex industry and provided protection for prostitutes from undesirables.
    The Cannabis and Legalisation Control Bill will provide a similar level of regulation around a problem that already exists. Like it or not, cannabis is and has been in our communities, our workplaces and our families for ages. A yes vote will allow us to provide a framework of control.
    We do not have a clear understanding of cannabis use because it is illegal to test, to sample or to understand what the drug is and how much is too much. No agency is permitted to perform studies on cannabis use. A no vote will keep t New Zealand organisations confused and unclear about how to manage cannabis and prevent workplaces from getting tools, services or products to know and understand what impairment is (it will remain a minefield).
  • MattD2
    129
    It really isn't that hard. And its a stepped approach. And an approach where you preferably get the person to admit they have a problem rather than you invasively testing for what might not be a problem - drugs in a system does not = impairment.Andrew

    The focus should be on helping people to rehabilitate / get through any addiction that interferes with their ability to keep themselves and others safe. Much of the debate on cannabis reform is on personal rights, but as employers we have a duty of care to everyone in the workplace and to the public if we interact with them.Steve Fursdon

    The main issue I take with the current norm is that it assumes any indication of cannabis use equates to that person having a "drug problem". And really this can only be based on the incorrect assumption that "illegal equals always bad", i.e. companies are basically saying "I don't care if you're actually impaired or not, it was illegal for you to smoke that joint 2 weeks ago so you need to be disciplined..." (being forced to take part in a "rehabilitation program" is still a disciplinary action).

    This becomes completely hypocritical where in the eyes of the same company it is completely acceptable for a worker to get black-out drunk every day they have off (likely destroying their liver and health in the process) as long as they have sobered up enough by their next shift.

    And to be honest - most "problematic" drug use (including alcohol and legal/prescription drugs) is a symptom of other socioeconomic or phycological issues that need to be resolved if you are looking for any sort of long term solution... "helping" people with substances abuse purely through abstinence programs is just a band-aid on the real problem.

    At this stage, I've yet to meet a client who will be voting yes, purely because they don't know what that will mean for them and their workers or don't like where they think it's going.Karen

    That would be a huge red flag to me that those companies are not actually effectively managing the risk due to impairment from drugs, even if they had a "robust" Drug & Alcohol policy in place. The legality of a substances that alters your mental and physical state does not at all affect the need to have in place means to identify, monitor and manage the risk - after all if it did (and I hate using this argument because it is stupid) then they wouldn't be able to control the risk of their workers being drunk?
    Out of interest - how many of those 5 companies a week use the Land Transport Act's limits for alcohol impairment and how many use the Zero Tolerance / 100µg per litre breath limit, and how many that include random testing have assessed and include the safety critical tasks / areas of their work?

    By the way - I'm voting yes as the socioeconomic problems caused by a prohibition approach to cannabis has caused more damage to our countries people and economy than has been prevented by it. Mostly regarding the long lasting affects on the opportunities and prosperity for those convicted for cannabis possession, i.e. often the punishment does not fit the crime when considering all the effective outcomes. Often leading to wider socioeconomic issues such as an increase likelihood of unemployment due to a perceived lower "employability".
  • Cam Smailes
    3
    Matt - completely concur with everything you have said.

    Potentially if the result from the referendum happens to be a 'yes' and legalisation becomes a reality, we may see more non-negative results coming through as people increase social use during the weekend alongside alcohol. On the Monday however, one substance may fail a test as non-negative or 'impaired' and the other pass with Zero micrograms per litre of breath no matter how much fatigue is felt from either. If the frequency of failures increase for the reason of "it must still be leftover from Friday night", it is this I fear happening which may reduce the importance of our testing regimes in their current state.

    I understand that Saliva testing could provide the opportunity to balance the field of sensitivity between drugs to potentially measure closer to an "impairment" state, therefore not controlling the lifestyle decisions of those at home, however the standards are still comparatively new and companies are feeling safer continuing with the norm should the process be challenged through courts.
  • Peter Bateman
    175
    Fingers crossed for the special votes ...
  • Don Ramsay
    13
    Should be interesting to see where the number settle
  • Bruce Tollan
    20
    Good discussion on Whakatāne District Council drug testing or impairment testing
    Here.
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/429477/whakatane-district-council-to-begin-random-drug-testing
  • Andrew
    305
    I'm not sure I would call it a "good discussion".

    I surprised myself by reading as far as
    "The council's chief executive, Stephanie O'Sullivan, said random and pre-employment drug testing was only a small part of what the council did to improve health and safety in the workplace.

    The council would undertake proactive education and the drug testing could catch something before it happened, she said.

    It might also help people recognise they had a problem."


    There is so much wrong with that, I don't know where to begin.
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