Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, the definition of ‘hazard’ includes: “a person’s behaviour where that behaviour has the potential to cause death, injury, or illness to a person (whether or not that behaviour results from physical or mental fatigue, drugs, alcohol, traumatic shock, or another temporary condition that affects a person’s behaviour)” (more).
Impairment caused by drugs or alcohol in the workplace creates a threat to yourself and employees due to poor concentration, recklessness or error in judgement. Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is a reasonable step employers can take to prevent serious harm from occurring. This can include regular drug testing, random drug testing, as well as reactive drug testing (more).
However, despite drug testing being a practical process in identifying or preventing hazardous behaviour in the workplace, it also raises the issue of privacy.
While workplace drug testing is legal, with due cause and informed consent, the procedure is subject to provisions in the Privacy Act 1993. Employers have the right to collect personal information from workers, including test results, but should only be collected for lawful purposes and not be disclosed or used for any other purposes unrelated to the workplace (more).
If you’re concerned about drugs in the workplace and thinking of introducing or amending a testing regime at work, the ILO has some great general advice here.
Working Wise also provides Pre-Employment Health Checks and Annual Health Monitoring to employers who are looking to implement regular testing in the workplace to ensure a safer working environment. Give our team a call on 04 499 0710 or fill out our online contact form here, for more information.