A recent report issued by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has revealed that nearly one million UK citizens have illegal drugs in their system when at work. The workers come from all walks of life and are occupied in all types of employment, from bus drivers to surgeons.
In order to monitor this illicit drug use and to make the workplace a safer place, an increasing number of companies are using the services of online drug companies to combat this growing problem. A worker whose senses and judgement have been altered by drug use can cause harm to their co-workers, the public and themselves, and many companies now include a drugs and alcohol policy as part of their health and safety procedures. The worker has to give their permission for a test of this nature but failure to do so will be viewed as suspicious by an employer. Drugs can be detected in the system for up to three days after use; cannabis is the exception as this substance remains in the blood system for up to 28 days. In fact cannabis testing presents a problem because an employee could argue that their drug use was recreational rather than in the workplace, despite the fact that this form of drug use is illegal anyway.
How it works
If an employer is suspicious of a worker’s erratic behaviour, or feels that their performance isn’t as high as it should be then they should draw the employee’s attention to the company’s policy on drugs. Alternatively, those who apply for a job in the police, the offshore industry or transport industry should be made aware that drug testing will be part of their job application. Drug tests can either comprise a urine test or hair follicle testing and the employer will be sent the correct testing kit. One of the benefits of online drug testing is that the results can be received within 24 hours. The speed of this response means that any HR department can start to counsel the employee to discover if the problem has existed for a long time. It is important to know if the employee needs help with their problems or whether the incident is just a one off. It’s also important for a company to ensure that they have a representative of the same sex present when a worker has agreed to a drug test.
Most Health and Safety regulations, including the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 Act, place the responsibility of the employee and behaviour in the workplace firmly in the hands of the employer. The key word in the legislation deals with the term ‘knowingly,’ therefore, if employers knowingly allow employees to work when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it can result in prosecution of the employer. A drug testing policy illustrates that a company is aware of its obligations. This is one of the main reasons for the growth in popularity of online drug testing. Another important reason for this growth is that a healthy and drug and alcohol free workforce creates a more productive company, which in these uncertain times is of paramount importance for all.