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Health and Archaeology
#51
There are many issues floating around in this discussion, many factoids, many myths.

Firstly if someone is too intoxicated, too tired, or too distracted by say family problems to work safely they should absolutely be sent home until they are safe to work - as per the spirit of HSE guidelines and not sacked on the spot, no right to appeal.

Secondly you can't lawfully sack someone for no good reason. For instance, you can't screen your workforce for left-handedness then sack them because left-handed people have more accidents (whether the evidence is true or not).

Thirdly, there is no evidence that testing positive on the tests used automatically makes you a safety risk. There are however many cases of people testing positive that were not an increased safety risk. The equipment does produce 'false positives' - no matter what the companies doing the tests say.

Think very carefully what this could mean if unchallenged...........(bear in mind neither of these cases are based on real events, only facts on the equipment/policies of some companies)

Case 1: someone (a sub-contractor) has a pub meal, a posh salad then straight after attends a safety induction. They have a sore throat so use a well-known throat spray. They are told they must do a drugs test or they can't work on site. They say fine (they are not a drug-user, never have been). The test comes back positive for low levels of cannabis and opiates and high levels of alcohol. They are questioned, they have no explanation, they are not on any medication and haven't had a drink and suggest the test was wrong. The test is sent off to the testing company who confirm low levels of opiates and cannabis and high levels of alcohol. The construction site has a zero tolerance policy on drug use so the person is excluded from site, no right to appeal because someone put poppy and hemp seeds on their salad and throat sprays produce overly high results for alcohol.

Case 2: someone (a sub-contractor) goes out to a club at the weekend. They leave their drink with a friend while they have a dance. The friend needs the loo, so leaves the drink unattended for a moment. The person returns to the drink, they are a bit drunk so don't think to check the drink - ah, it'll be fine. Later they start feeling a bit funny, fuzzy-headed but really happy. Their friend takes them home as they seem to be acting a bit weird. The next day the person feels fine so doesn't think anything of it. On monday they turn up for an induction and are told they must take a drugs test or be excluded from site. The person is a bit concerned as they drank heavily over the weekend, the site manager says they shouldn't worry, they'll be ok as they shouldn't be 'over the limit'. They take the test and are 'below the limit' for alcohol but test positive for ecstasy. The site has a zero tollerance on drug use so the person is excluded from site because they had a drink spiked.


Fourthly, breaking the law is breaking the law. It is not against the law to have cannabis, speed, cocaine etc etc etc in your system (see the cases above for why it is not against the law). It is against the law with respect to employing/not employing people, to discriminate. It is against the law to breach peoples Human rights.

The law is the law. If you break it (construction companies) you should pay the price.

Its not the testing per se I am against, its the way it is implemented and the resulting summary sacking. If the tests were being used to prove impairment it would be fine to exclude the worker from site and implement appropriate but fair disciplinary procedures. They are not.

There are a variety of testing equipment available, some will tell you if the person used drugs/alcohol that day, a few days before....up to several weeks (I think). Also the police have a simple set of observation-based criteria to tell is someone is considered to be 'under the influence' i.e. impaired, through drugs or alcohol. Why aren't these used? Why do the companies use the tests that can detect drug use weeks ago? How do they get out of their obligations for the employees rights??

Its all well and good to say in the old days safety was bad, people were drunk on site, people died, but now its safer.
However saying this is due to drugs testing is unsubstantiated twoddle.
The threat of testing does make most people think twice about drinking/using on site - but doesn't automatically equate to the leaps and bounds made in occupational safety.

I know the testing companies claim its all their doing, but they would say that as they are selling the testing. The actual evidence is otherwise according to the DrugScope survey.

The real reason that safety is working better than before (in construction companies) can be traced to the work of the HSE (who don't condone drugs screening) who have diligently re-educated a whole industry, prosecuted lots of companies and company CEO's (after the law changed) making it financially important to keep your workers safe.
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#52
it is just another mechanism to make it easier to get rid of someone you dont want or a lever to get something you do want. it is ridiculous
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#53
Dinosaur Wrote:steady - showing your age there.... Big Grin

.....and feeling it lately Wink
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#54
P Prentice Wrote:it is just another mechanism to make it easier to get rid of someone you dont want or a lever to get something you do want. it is ridiculous

Outrageous and against civil liberties in my opinion ! I know of one chap who got sacked from one of the big units for testing positive for weed !

If that had been myself I would have hauled them over the coals in whatever court necessary.....
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#55
Interestingly (or not), the last drugs test I partook gave a level within your system depending on how blue your pot of wee went. They then sent it off to a lab to determine what you'd been taking. Some of the main contractors staff were sent home while these tests were done - there was not an instant sacking, although this apparently happened. It appeared that a disciplinary procedure was followed rather than an instant firing, and surprisingly, even the lads let go said that it was a fair cop.

It's not always presence that can be a problem, certainly in the medical sphere, as a major concern is the long term effects of drug taking and potential psychological effects. This could be dealt with under the general "are they safe to work" test, I suppose. The only problem I have with this is if you are going to stop someone from working on a site, do you need more of a reason than the potentially subjective "You look tired / smell drunk / I think you're a pillock", or do you need something more objective?

(As a medical aside, my lovely doctor wife tells me that there's a debate whether mental health issues can be caused by cannabis use, or whether underlying mental health issues are exposed or exacerbated).

(As another aside, apparently the site contractor drug du jour is now coke, as the price has dropped massively. It's surprising how many sites I've been on where they're all talking about doing a few lines of a Friday night).
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#56
Once again sense and reason from Jack.

There is another issue that a couple of the posts above have raised though, and highlight perfectly the problem with H&S as sometimes implemented on site, and that is the lack of understanding of the concepts of hazard, risk and competence, which are the bedrock of H&S. I'm sure Jack or someone else all correct me if I get the following wrong, as it's a long time since I did the CITB SMSTS thingy, and there have been a few changes in the mean time. But, the idea behind H&S is to identify the hazards, quantify the risks and introduce methods and practices that reduce those risks to an acceptable level. Part of that process is by only employing those who are competent for the task they are doing. Now, in fact, the bar is set pretty low on the competence front. It has to be, or there wouldn't be enough people to do the work. So, for many, a minuscule amount of alcohol or residual drugs in the system, a cold, tiredness, family problems, aching back etc., all of which will impair your performance to a degree, will not bring your level of competence to a level that increases the risk. To put it another way, most people perform well above the level at which they increase the risk factor.

As to PPE, as far as I'm aware the law states that it is to be used as a last resort. If every other practical measure has been taken and the level of risk is still above the acceptable limit, then PPE should be used to bring that risk level below the limit. So one of my arguments against policies that dictate full PPE all the time is that it is an open admission that all other measures to minimise the risk have, in fact, not been taken. For example, unless there are exceptional circumstances there should not be stuff flying about that could get in your eyes, so safety glasses should not be required. That risk should have been reduced to an acceptable level by other means.

I could ramble on, but it's Friday evening and I can see your eyes glazing over... Have a good weekend folks!
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#57
++Jack (&others)

(hard work re-excavting old ground)

i'm off for a bowl of TooksFinest. [blessings]
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#58
Shall be mulling all this over during the next few weeks while working in what is, during the summer at least, a rather pleasant quiet, tucked away bit of heathland with butterflies and stuff and a river flowing past and no vehicle access or known hazards of any sort, while wearing full Class III yellow PPE, gloves, helmet, safety glasses etc etc...errrr... Sad

Oh, and weekly safety meetings 12 miles away to slow the job down...
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#59
Well I'm now converted and better informed. It was the couple of realistic example cases that swayed me to the view that screening is useless. I'm also glad that I now know the reason it was brought in across the construction industry was to give companies a reason to sack a few crusty archaeologists. Very educational on here at times. ;-)
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#60
Dirty Boy Wrote:Interestingly (or not), the last drugs test I partook gave a level within your system depending on how blue your pot of wee went. They then sent it off to a lab to determine what you'd been taking. Some of the main contractors staff were sent home while these tests were done - there was not an instant sacking, although this apparently happened. It appeared that a disciplinary procedure was followed rather than an instant firing, and surprisingly, even the lads let go said that it was a fair cop.

It's not always presence that can be a problem, certainly in the medical sphere, as a major concern is the long term effects of drug taking and potential psychological effects. This could be dealt with under the general "are they safe to work" test, I suppose. The only problem I have with this is if you are going to stop someone from working on a site, do you need more of a reason than the potentially subjective "You look tired / smell drunk / I think you're a pillock", or do you need something more objective?

(As a medical aside, my lovely doctor wife tells me that there's a debate whether mental health issues can be caused by cannabis use, or whether underlying mental health issues are exposed or exacerbated).

(As another aside, apparently the site contractor drug du jour is now coke, as the price has dropped massively. It's surprising how many sites I've been on where they're all talking about doing a few lines of a Friday night).

Hi dirty boy.....I know your more of an expert in this than me.....I'm glad you took the bait }Smile

What of the Human rights issues?
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