Random Drug Testing
Its not a matter of being defensive. Though that said, I see the right to privacy as a fundamental and crucial human right that we have here in New Zealand and we should all work very hard to preserve this right. And the courts agree with me – which is why we must have such a high threshold of risk before this right can be undermined.
No matter how you sugar coat a turd, scratch under the surface and it remains a turd. While “health monitoring” may seem a pleasant coating, it is a mis-use of that procedure.
We can now go off and read up on S6 (especially subsection 3), S31 and 33 – 42 of the General Risk and Workplace management Regs as our New Year homework.
Random drug testing has been in place for many years now yet we still have high death rates in industry and little decrease in serious injuries. Is this evidence that random testing is a waste of time and money and is only promoted by those with a vested interest in making a profit from random testing
"Safety Sensitive" is an interesting term, and not the only consideration when setting policy. When I worked at Ports of Auckland, the CEO decided that ALL roles are 'safety-sensitive' - even administrative and IT roles make decisions that could affect worker safety if they were impaired. In addition, it was recognised that such a designation has the potential to be divisive within the organisation and everyone should be expected to turn up to work with full cognitive functioning - so the same rule for everyone.
Testing is done under the assumption of detecting impaired cognitive function. Unfortunately, since there is not yet a definitive test for cognitive functioning, everyone has to rely on testing for levels deemed to be 'safe' or 'harmful' using a generic level across the board. Since individual tolerance for intoxicating or mind-altering substances are known to vary widely, designated levels may well indicate impairment for some but not for others. At the moment, it is still an imperfect methodology for protecting workers from harm due to use of drugs or alcohol.
As a side note, what happens with over-the-counter and prescription drugs that may cause impairment - e.g., many common cold remedies are known to make people drowsy, and I wonder how many people actually follow the instructions on the packaging?
It also doesn't help the cause when a safety manager himself comes to work off his head on tramadol for a painful knee, brushing off concerns that he might not be in a fit state to be at work. His response when queried was, "Believe me, if I have an accident, it didn't happen at work!" Eventually we persuaded him to go home. He probably should not have been driving, but absolutely refused to go home any other way, even though he staggered around the carpark and nearly tried to open a car that was not his.....
The CEO has the prerogative of calling anything whatever he likes. But what he can't do is call something "Safety Sensitive" and then apply random drug testing if its not.
The courts have said "safety sensitive" is within a wharf limits (Maritime Union of New Zealand Inc v TLNZ (2007),)
(re your other post on your Safety Manager. Drugs isn't the issue. He is patently incompetent and should be without a job)
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