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Alcohol and Drug Testing in the Workplace.
I am curious to know the opinion of other archaeologist regarding the matter of random alcohol and drug tests that are being increasingly carried out on the larger projects.

All the bumf we are given always makes them sound reasonable on the basis of health and safety and the basic attitude is "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear"! My personal opinion is that they are invasive and basically a breach of civil liberties!?:face-confused:
This is one that happened before, and must be reasonable, and can be carried out by the compnay themselves, based on the status and requirement. a blanket coverage is unusual, it is often a randomn selection...

basically, times have changed from the days where you popped to the pub fr lunch for 2 or three pint... then headed back to site and jump onto the kubota mini digger...
I'm sorry but I don't think its reasonable - it's just made to sound reasonable. There are major problems with the whole process. As I've already said the health and safety card is played to good effect. The only people with a real vested interest in testing are the private testing firms! Just another case of the creeping fascism predicted by Orwell. Any way have a look at these links.

PS I'm sorry if this theme is repetitive but I missed the discussion last time, and would like to know what people think (even if my own mind is made up).
Quote:Just another case of the creeping fascism predicted by Orwell.

Maybe to a certain extent that is true. However I have heard quite a few scary stories about people who have been out of their faces on site. It is not just themselves they are putting at risk but other people as well. Like it or not drug taking is actually illegal in this country so I can't see how it is an infringement of your rights to be tested.
Geli Wrote:The only people with a real vested interest in testing are the private testing firms!

And the employers who are liable for any breaches of health and safety on site, and the employees and members of the public who may be affected by an incident arising from an individual working under the influence.

I can see how it could be seen as an intrusion into people's private lives - as far as I'm concerned, what people do in their own time is entirely up to them - but if I get run over by a drunken van driver, or hit by a machine bucket from an operator who is under the influence, I wouldn't be too chuffed, and neither would the HSE.

So what's the alternative? Alter your behaviour to suit the requirements of your industry, take the chance that you won't get tested, or change the kind of jobs you choose to do. I.e., don't go for large-scale infrastructure jobs working alongside other construction staff.
?He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself?
Chinese Proverb
Maggie: I think firstly that if a member of staff came on to the job drunk or otherwise intoxicated then immediately their supervisor would clearly be able to tell without the aid of a test. Secondly people do take illegal drugs in this country on a recreational basis but by the same token manage to hold down jobs and are productive members of the workforce. Are such people to be marginalised and forced out of the work place? Would this be constructive to the work environment or society in general?

One of the conclusions of the independently carried out inquiry sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation concluded there to be "no justification for drug testing in the workplace as a means of policing the private behaviour of employees, or of improving performance and productivity. It suggests that although drug testing does have a role to play, particularly where safety is a concern, investment in management training and systems is likely to have a more positive impact and to be less costly, divisive and invasive."

Windbag: again the health and safety angle. I can as any reasonable person would be able to, see the need for people to be sober at work especially those operating large potentially dangerous plant, but I would again refer you to the above answer. Additionally independent analysis of results gained from testing highlight no significant problem with drug and alcohol at work. So what is the point? This is just a solution looking for a problem.
Do you also then consider it an invasion of people's civil liberties if they are tested while driving? Personally I'd be pretty concerned if I suspected someone was on site off their face and using heavy machinery! The fact that they consider it worthwhile at all suggests that it has been an issue in the past. Or indeed it could be part of a creeping Orwellian nightmare, if you believe in such things...
See this:

Quote:Construction industry giants, including Bovis Lend Lease and Laing O'Rourke, have introduced random on-the-spot drug and alcohol tests on their sites following implementation of low or zero-tolerance substance misuse policies. However, dismissals following a positive result may not always be fair, and the terms of any policy may also give rise to a conflict between public safety and privacy issues. So how can an employer introduce and implement a policy to avoid findings of unfair dismissal?
Employers that knowingly allow employees to carry out safety-critical work whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As such, robust policies and random on- the-spot checks may assist to establish a defence, and a positive result will also help to satisfy part of the legal test for a fair conduct dismissal.

Introducing a policy

As a general guide, a policy should be clear in relation to who will be tested, when and in what circumstances they will be tested, and the method of testing. Employers should also ensure that all employees are aware of what level of reading will constitute a positive result, the category of offices - for example, gross misconduct, and the consequences of not submitting a test.
If a zero or low-tolerance approach is to be adopted, the policy should clearly state that having drugs or alcohol in the system above the stipulated limit will be considered gross misconduct, which may result in summary dismissal.
The policy should be incorporated into the employment contract, following consultation with health and safety representatives and employees. This will ensure that employees are aware of the policy and its consequences and will give employers a contractual right to test employees.
The policy should stipulate testing for all employees in safety-critical roles. It would be unreasonable to undertake random tests in respect of roles which do not have associated safety risks.

Where misconduct arises from alcoholism, employers should take a cautious approach, exploring all the circumstances before making decisions, particularly as there may be underlying causes that may give rise to disability discrimination claims. Consideration may be given to allowing employees to keep their jobs if they submit to courses of treatment. Where this route has been pursued and there is no improvement, employers should note that dismissing for a further positive test will not automatically be a fair dismissal as it will depend on the circumstances in each case.
In order to dismiss fairly where an employee refuses to be tested, the right to do so should be set out in the policy.
However, even where there is a contractual right to test employees, if an employee in a non-safety-critical role refuses to submit to a test and is subsequently dismissed, a tribunal is likely to find that the dismissal is unfair, and also that there has been an infringement of the employee's human rights. This is because the low public safety concern is likely to be considered disproportionate to requiring invasive tests, so careful consideration should be given as to what roles the policy should apply.
Privacy rights

Employers should be aware that positive test results may be returned in instances where alcohol or drugs have been taken outside of work. A zero or low-tolerance approach in this instance may result in a dismissal, and this could be open to challenge for infringement of the right to privacy under human rights laws.
If the object of a drugs and alcohol policy supported by random testing is to ensure that the employee is able to undertake the duties associated with their role safely, it is likely to be considered proportionate and not an invasion of privacy.
Test results may be affected by prescription drugs, and employers should consider making allowances for this.
Most importantly, any policy should be clear and fully communicated to all employees.
Training should be given to employees and managers to highlight the risks to themselves and their colleagues and the possible causes and consequences of being over the limit on drugs or alcohol at work. Employers should follow the policy, apply it consistently and adopt a procedurally fair approach to any related dismissal.
Here the suggestion is clear policy... from the employing company... AND that the last timee this reared its head... it was due to hungover archaeologists on a capital site.
Key findings of the Rowntree Inquiry:

The evidence on the links between drug use and accidents at work, absenteeism, low productivity and poor performance was inconclusive. Most employers who had drug tested employees told the IIDTW that levels of positive results were very low.

There is a lack of evidence for a strong link between drug use and accidents in safety-critical industries, such as transport, engineering, quarrying and mining. Clearly, however, drug- and alcohol-induced intoxication will be a source of risk in such environments.

However, other factors may have a greater impact on safety, productivity and performance, including bad working conditions, sleeping and health problems, excessive workloads and work-related stress.
Evidence considered by the IIDTW suggests that alcohol is probably a greater cause for concern in the workplace than illicit drugs.

There is no clear evidence that drug testing at work has a significant deterrent effect.

Drug testing is not a measure of current intoxication and will reveal information about drug use that can have no impact on safety, productivity or performance. Someone may test positive after taking a drug days, weeks or months before.

People are not generally required to organise their lives to maximise their productivity at work, and employers do not have a direct law enforcement function. Empowering employers to investigate private behaviour actively - in the absence of legitimate safety or performance concerns - is in conflict with liberal-democratic values.

The IIDTW found that the legal position on drug testing at work is confused. Employers could be open to legal challenge if they invade the privacy of employees unnecessarily, particularly under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998.

Drug testing services in the UK are being provided by a very disparate group of companies and individuals. Many of them are very responsible. But the picture is mixed, with evidence that some of these companies may be making what appear to be inflated claims about the extent and impact of alcohol and drug problems in the workplace and the effectiveness of their own products.

Remarkably little is known about the extent of drug testing at work in the UK. Perhaps the most reliable information comes from a small survey conducted by the IIDTW which found that 4 per cent of employers who responded were conducting drug tests, and a further 9 per cent were 'likely' to introduce drug tests in the next year.

Many employers and experts who gave evidence to the IIDTW highlighted the costs of drug testing at work. These include not only financial costs but also the potentially divisive nature of testing and the costs of excluding otherwise responsible and capable people from employment.
In reply to Geli's original mail ...if you feel that your civil liberties are threatened by random alcohol or drug testing you can always refuse to sign a contract that stipulates such testing or refuse to take a test. Unfortunately you may find that you no longer have a job....but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that the moral high ground is all yours!! :I
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...

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