Friday, May 31, 2013

Making the D&A Program Organisation Specific

Each drug and alcohol program must be developed so that it provides a good fit for the organisation. Though the broad, basic elements of a program may be the same from program to program, the specifics of the program are influenced by factors like the organisational culture and environment, social interactions, and structure. For example, a drug and alcohol program for an office will vary from a program designed to accommodate a business with multiple locations. A business that has many workplace social functions where alcohol is served will need to carefully articulate the circumstances under which employee alcohol consumption in moderation is allowed and then define moderation.

The variances between programs recognize that each business has different styles of operation depending on its mission. A construction company that requires the operation of heavy equipment and power tools will need to outline a drug and alcohol policy that specifically includes safety issues related to equipment operation. The same company will need to specifically address the issue of mixing illicit drugs or alcohol with potentially hazardous job duties like working at high levels. In companies where exposure to toxic fumes is a possibility, which includes office workers, the organization specific drug and alcohol training program can include a special section on the dangers of “huffing” chemicals and the potentially fatal reactions of mixing drugs and alcohol with or without in-house chemicals.

Safety Sensitive Links

The disciplinary actions enforced when workers test positive for drugs or alcohol can also be organisation specific. Some jobs are so safety-sensitive that any violation leads to immediate suspension and required completion of a rehabilitation program before return to work. The aeronautics industry is an excellent example. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) developed a drug and alcohol response program that states a person with a confirmed positive test is not allowed to perform safety sensitive aviation activities (SSAA) until the person completes a series of steps. First, a comprehensive assessment is completed which includes both physiological and psycho-social indicators. Second, a drug or alcohol intervention program has to be completed if the assessment indicates it is necessary. Third, the person must be medically released to return to SSAA. Finally, the person must receive a negative test result for drugs and alcohol.1 Only after completing these four steps is a person allowed to return to work.

The greater the safety sensitivity of positions, the more stringent the policies and procedures must be. Airline pilots, nurses, miners, engineers, truck drivers, and many more professionals have the health and wealth being of others depending on their ability to do their job. The Australian government allows the designation of safety sensitive positions that are tested for substances more regularly than other positions for this reason. The types of positions will naturally vary from industry to industry. CASA defines safety sensitive positions as those “linked to both the safety operation of aircraft and the safety of individuals in and around aircraft.” Baggage handlers fit the definition while reservationists do not, so they would be randomly tested instead.2

Match the Program to the Business

People who are employed in positions with responsibility for managing other people’s assets may not fall under the legal definition of safety sensitive, but they certainly need to be substance free to do a good job. For example, no one wants a professional financial planner deciding when to buy and sell stocks while mentally confused due to substance abuse or needing additional commissions to support a drug habit. There is little risk of physical injury but a high risk of financial harm to others.

One of the best practices for workplace drug testing is targeting safety-sensitive work roles.2 However, that is just one component of an effective program because random testing of all positions reduces the risk of harm in many ways. Employers must be careful that their drug and alcohol testing programs take into consideration the particular functions performed by workers and are effective at promoting a substance free workplace within the structure of the business.

Mediscreen ( offers onsite and offsite screening for drugs and alcohol. The experienced testing company works across industries and can contribute expert advice to employers interested in initiating or strengthening their drug and alcohol program. 

This article has been taken from

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Employers and Drug Testing Services Partner in Fight Against

The reality seems to be that millions of Australians want to get “high”, and they will use whatever they can find to achieve their goal. The news was once filled with stories of heroin, ecstasy, and meth labs, but there is a new topic taking headlines more and more often – synthetic drugs. Employers reading these stories may wonder if they are fighting a losing battle in trying to maintain a drug free workplace. It may be tempting, but fortunately for employers there are patterns of behaviour associated with illicit drug use that make it likely even synthetic drug users will be detected through employer due diligence in administering a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy.

Synthetic drugs represent an attempt to evade the law and still get high. Recently, mine workers were reported to be using a new synthetic drug called Venom which was imported from China. Venom is a more sophisticated type of Kronic, though it is still synthetic cannabis and can be detected through drug testing.1 Synthetic cannabis is detectable using an onsite saliva test, but it is impossible to not realise that other synthetic drugs exist. The laboratories are working on developing drug tests that can detect all synthetic illicit drugs using new technology, but in the meantime employers must find ways to keep the workforce safe.

Fake Drugs with Real Comedowns

One of the mistakes people taking synthetic drugs make is believing that they are not dangerous because many are sold online or through retailers. However, no one knows for sure what is in synthetic drugs and the results can be surprisingly similar to more powerful known illicit drugs. Late last year, New South Wales users began reporting that they were experiencing terrible “comedowns” after using white synthetic powers purchased at a local club’s adult store. First there was paranoia, followed by a sleepless night, and then feelings of depression. One of the men who explained the after effects of the unknown substance was unable to return to work for three days.2

The young adults describing their experiences with synthetic drugs said two remarkable things that employers should take heed of. First, the fake drugs were surprisingly strong. Second, many of these people expected the synthetic drugs to be safer than street drugs. They apparently expected to get high but not experience any physical effects.

Smarter Than the Drug Users

The federal and state governments are trying to find a way to include the many variations of synthetic drugs in their laws without unintentionally banning legitimate products. Though the law is struggling to deal with synthetic drugs, except for synthetic cannabis which is already banned, employers have a number of ways to keep the drugs out of the workplace, even synthetic versions.

First, it is important to partner with a quality, experienced drug testing company that uses state-of-the-art technology and sells high quality testing equipment. As drug users become more sophisticated, so will the alcohol testing and laboratories. Employers need a good drug testing partner to ensure they have access to the most recent testing developments in terms of equipment and services.

Second, the majority of illicit drug users are poly drug users. The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, being updated in 2013, reports that 85.2 percent of cannabis users and 96.2 percent of cocaine users also used alcohol. In addition, 90 percent of hallucinogen users also used cannabis. Users like to mix cannabis with other drugs like ecstasy, pharmaceuticals, and amphetamine.3 Therefore, testing for synthetic cannabis and alcohol is likely to identify workers using other types of drugs, even if the employer is unaware of the existence of various synthetic drugs. It is the common behaviours that reveal drug users of any kind because people who like to get high will turn to easily obtained substances like cannabis and alcohol to stay high.

Third, employers must train their supervisors to recognise drug and alcohol use in the workplace. As the young adults in New South Wales pointed out, they experienced severe synthetic drug effects. Supervisors and workers should know that synthetic drugs are as dangerous as known illicit drugs and learn to recognise behaviours in the workplace that put other people at risk. The employer should have clear procedures for the reporting of suspected drug use and a policy for at-cause substance testing. As mentioned, there is a high probability the synthetic drug user has used a detectable substance like Kronic (or its variations) or alcohol.

Finally, employers should monitor work attendance. Employees who frequently miss work on Mondays may be using substances on weekends. Though employers must protect the privacy rights of workers, they have the right to discipline workers who consistently miss work. Though there are no statistics to prove this theory, it is likely a number of undetected synthetic drug users were terminated from their place of employment due to their behaviours rather than a specific drug test.

Employers must use a combination of strategies to keep drugs and alcohol out of the workplace. Drug users may think they are being “smarter” than employers by using synthetic drugs, but savvy employers exercise diligence at all times. Mediscreen ( can be an important partner in this diligent effort because it offers services like 24/7 drug screening, support for the Chain of Custody process, and state-of-the art testing services at any location.

 This article has been taken from

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Drug Dealers Look for Weak Points

Diligently working to keep workplaces substance free requires staying informed about drug users and dealers. A strong zero tolerance policy is a good start, but its effectiveness will depend on how well it “plugs the holes.” That is merely a euphemism for saying that people determined to sell, buy and use drugs will look for opportunities in the workplace as well as in their personal lives. A drug dealer or pusher, in particular, has a livelihood dependent on being able to sell illicit drugs. Like any good sales person, the goal is find new customers, which is why the workplace is one target.

The truth of these statements recently made headlines again as the Queensland mining workers and the police spoke out about the drug culture in fly-in and fly-out camps. The opportunities for drug pushing are numerous. The location remoteness makes it more difficult for the police to monitor the situation and easier for drug manufacturers to make and sell drugs. The high stress level of workers coupled with few available activities during their off-times, and the fact workers are well-paid, also makes miners likely targets of drug dealers and pushers.1

No Complacency Allowed

It might be tempting for employers in large cities to read about the drug problems at mines and get complacent by assuming that they are less likely to attract drug dealers for reasons like they are more police accessible. However, workplace investigations have shown that drug dealers are expert at embedding themselves into businesses. Someone intent on finding a comfortable place for pushing drugs may enter a business as a new hire or may be an employee who begins using drugs and wants others to do so also. In one case in the U.S., a risk management firm investigated a food processing business and discovered it was a temporary worker bringing drugs into the workplace.2

Chances are the people who decide to use drugs in the workplace or decide to make them available to co-workers are good planners. They must be good at hiding the drugs, escaping detection, finding ways to pass the drugs to co-workers, and scheduling the drug use or sales. It is unfortunate these people do not use those organisational skills to advance in their jobs instead of advancing illicit activities. Despite the growing rates of drug use and the increasing use of powerful drugs like heroin, many businesses still do not have effective drug and alcohol policies and procedures.

Every employer should ask certain questions about their place of business. The questions represent a self-audit that gives employers a perspective on workplace substance use. These questions apply to all sizes of businesses, including small businesses with a few employees.3

What would be the impact on the business if workers use substances, taking into consideration measurements like increased turnover, accounting errors, increased injuries, reduced productivity, etc?

Have drug

s or alcohol ever been detected in the workplace, and how do workers react to substance use and detection? What is the organisational culture concerning substance use? Is there a drug and alcohol policy in place? Are workers trained on the policy? Are their procedures in place for random alcohol testing? Are supervisors prepared should substances be detected or a worker experiences substance related issues? Do employees know the procedure to follow should a co-worker be caught using substances or if substance abuse is revealed in some manner?

Is the company prepared to offer resources to staff members with substance abuse problems, i.e. Employee Assistance Plan, referrals to counselling centers, temporary absence from job to complete rehabilitation program, etc.

Weak Points Make Strong Opportunities

Weak points in a business represent opportunities to drug dealers. For example, a business that does not have a random drug testing program in place, nor has one that is not rigorously implemented, is creating an ideal situation for drug dealers. It does not take long for the word to get out that a business is lax in enforcing drug and alcohol testing. In addition, some workplaces must also deal with unique features of their workplaces that may increase the likelihood of employee substance abuse. For example, the remote mining location presents special challenges in that workers have little to do at the end of their shifts, and they work in high stress jobs. 

Employers can develop a mix of stress-relieving activities coupled with a random drug and alcohol testing program.

Weak points in a business can take many forms. For example, an employer may not do pre-employment testing. In some cases, there are no consequences should workers test positive, creating an organisational culture of substance tolerance. Employers also need to be particularly attuned to situations that create opportunities for potential substance abuse, like workers in remote areas, driving company vehicles, or working in safety sensitive positions.

Though a remote mine may seem as if it has no similarity to a city office building, the reality is that drug dealers do not care about location, per se. They care about opportunity, and that can be found in any location; instead, employers must care about risk. Doing a needs assessment by asking the right questions is the first step. Making sure opportunities are minimised is the next step, and that means having effective drug and alcohol policies and procedures in place. Finally, it is important to choose an experienced company like CMM Technology ( that is able to supply quality products and testing services to meet employer needs in a variety of workplace circumstances and locations.

This article has been taken from

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Beyond Safety - What D&A Workplace Testing Contributes to Society

Most discussions on drug and alcohol testing centre on the importance of establishing policies and enforcing them with procedures like pre-employment, for-cause, and random testing programs. However, it is just as important to talk about the benefits accrued as a result of these policies and procedures. In fact, the benefits that are derived from drug and alcohol policies and procedures extend beyond the workplace and beyond workplace safety. Workplace testing programs contribute to society as a whole because they educate people on the harms associated with substance abuse, and those same people take that learning with them into the community and their homes.

Workplace safety is improved with drug and alcohol testing. The safety improvements begin with the detection of people who may be impaired by drugs and alcohol, leading to their suspension of duties until they attend a rehabilitation program or get other help. Repeated use of drugs and alcohol almost always leads to eventual dismissal if the employer is serious about keeping illicit substances out of the workplace. Creating a workplace culture that is intolerant of drug and alcohol use promotes responsible behaviours and an attitude of cooperation and concern for co-workers. However, there are also a number of benefits that Australian society enjoys as a result employers enforcing zero tolerance workplaces.

Millions Strong

Employers can wield a lot of influence over a large group of people. It is the employer who decides which people to hire and who gets continued employment. That is a powerful motivator for workers to not use drugs and alcohol in the workplace. The latest employment figures for the number of full-time workers, as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, was 11.6 million people.1 That is potentially almost 12 million people who can hear a message about the dangers of substance abuse from employers. In the language of marketers, that represents remarkable opportunities for market penetration.

The same workers who hear the message in the workplace during drug and alcohol workshops instructing on policies and procedures return to their homes and communities every day. The messages they hear in the workplace about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol will certainly convince many of them to avoid substance abuse. These same people who understand the health risks will share that information with friends and family members.

Using Leverage to Reduce Substance Abuse

Another good example of the advantages society enjoys through the efforts of employers is the delivery of the message that there are intervention strategies that can help. People in the community who may not be aware of the best way to find help can learn from workers exposed to the strategies in workplace training sessions or as a result of personal experiences with intervention programs after testing positive for drugs or alcohol during employment. Employers have a lot of leverage in terms of convincing workers to seek help in a zero tolerance workplace.

The benefits of workplace drug and alcohol programs are not confined to the workplace. People who hear consistent messages about the harm drugs and alcohol cause, and support a substance free culture, are likely to share the information beyond the workplace. Mediscreen ( offers flexible drug and alcohol screening program services that can play an important role in developing a zero tolerance culture that benefits the workplace and society as well. 

This article has been taken from

Friday, May 24, 2013

Become Something that You’re Not

Drug testing equipment tests your employees to see if they have cooperated with company policy or if they are abusing the policy of your business.

In essence, workplace drug testing makes sure that everyone involved with your organization is acting, behaving, and working as they should. There is no way to tell for sure if your employees are abusing drugs or alcohol in their spare time, but you can find out if they are doing it on or near the workplace. That is the important thing. Technically, what someone does in their free time is their own business and they can choose to engage in self destructive behavior if they want to. However, your company is liable for any misconduct, especially misconduct which affects the lives and safety of other employees.

Drug screening tests to see if your workers are becoming what they are not.

By the same token, you can control how well your company is run and how productive and happy your employees are. Even if such a thing seems impossible or impractical, it truly can be done.

Remember: Become something that you’re not.

Workplace drug testing laws have made certain industries be required to use alcohol testing and drug screening. However, you can become as good as, if not better than, these “requirements.” You can take direct action to protect and increase your business assets. You can bring in better employees and better managers, and you can implement drug testing in Australia just as well as the next business owner, and better than many of them.

You see, you have at your disposal Mediscreen’s special onsite testing service. We will come to your place of work and we will show you exactly just how fast and efficient onsite drug & alcohol testing can really be.

Shoot for the stars. Catch the moon. Set your goals high.

Use employee testing to make sure that your plans come to fruition and to enable the use of scientific help to better the safety and efficacy of all of your jobsites. This is a huge opportunity, especially if you have never used testing before. 

This article has been taken from

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Supporting Dismissal for Substance Abuse

The Fair Work Act administered by the Fair Work Commission is a set of legislative and regulatory directives setting standards for workplace relations. An important matter it covers is unfair dismissal claims, which is one of the popular charges frequently made by workers who are dismissed from their jobs due to substance use. The law gives employers the right to terminate workers for serious misconduct, which sounds reasonable at first glance. However, employers must be able to prove serious misconduct, and that is not always as easy as it seems.

Fair Work gives examples of serious misconduct, and one of the examples is “being drunk at work (to the extent the employee can’t be trusted to do their duties)” 1 In other words, simply being intoxicated at work is not necessarily serious misconduct justifying dismissal, if the employer cannot prove that the worker is unable to safely do their job. However, Fair Work also gives an example of serious misconduct as, “refusing to carry out a lawful and reasonable instruction that is part of the job.” These two examples support the case for having a clear drug and alcohol policy that serves as a reasonable instruction to employees to maintain a substance free workplace. In addition, the employer must have well trained staff who can accurately document situations in which workers are intoxicated or using illegal substances and the specifics as to how they are unable to safely do their jobs.

Anticipating Worker Disagreement with Results

A worker guilty of serious misconduct can be terminated without notice. For example, a construction worker drives a forklift erratically. The worker is tested for alcohol with a Lion AlcoBlow and the results clearly indicate that the person’s alcohol level is over .021 (% BAC). The employer can terminate the worker, giving no notice in a summary dismissal, but must still pay any unpaid wages or unused benefits like accrued vacation time. The employer does not have to be given an opportunity to respond (though many employers do), but the worker decides to file an unfair dismissal claim, saying that he was able to operate the forklift and the test results were false. The employer that used testing equipment meeting Australian Standard AS 3547 and has a detailed incident report describing the incident and how the worker’s action specifically threatened his safety and the safety of co-workers will have a much easier time defending the dismissal than a business with no drug and alcohol testing policy or program.

Chances are most workers are not going to admit drug and alcohol testing results are correct. They will claim the equipment is faulty or the tester did not know how to correctly operate the equipment. For small businesses with 15 or less employees, the Fair Work Act allows summary dismissal based on reasonable grounds that the misconduct is serious enough to justify the termination. The problem develops when it is time to defend reasonable grounds because what is reasonable to the employer is probably not reasonable to the person losing his or her job.

It is possible to prove reasonable grounds, but the task is much easier when alcohol and drug testing is used versus documenting events that can be interpreted in more than one way. Fair Work requires a reasonable investigation but does not describe a single course of action for the obvious reason that each situation will be very different. That puts the onus on the employer to justify investigative results and defend employment decisions.

How Much Investigating is Enough?

In one case, an employer suspected a worker was using drugs. The employer witnessed erratic behaviour, was told by the worker’s former partner that drugs were used, and learned the worker was admitted to the hospital for drug use and mental illness. The worker was dismissed, appealed the dismissal, and lost. The Fair Work Australia Full Bench decision in John Pinawin t/as Rosevi.Hair.Face.Beauty v. Mr. Edwin Doringo [2012] FWAFB 1359 was that the employer had reached a reasonable conclusion based on the reasonable investigation.2

What is defined as a reasonable investigation is debatable. In the case just mentioned, the employer actually observed the worker acting erratic at his home, as well as at work. It would have been so much simpler if the employer had tested the employee and documented the results, rather than feeling the need to follow the worker to his home, risking accusations of invasion of privacy, and interviewing others. At some point, the expense of investigating uncertain cases will far outweigh the cost of alcohol testing. All companies should have a drug and alcohol testing policy that prohibits the use of substances in the workplace. When testing indicates the employee is using drugs or alcohol, the employer has satisfied the Fair Work requirement for reasonable proof and can also prove the worker has failed to adhere to policies the person agreed to at the time of employment.

The keys to successfully protecting the workplace from the negative effects of substance abuse is to, 1) have a drug and alcohol policy, 2) ensure the policy is communicated to all staff, 3) implement a random drug & alcohol testing program, 4) consistently manage the program, and 5) thoroughly document testing results and every incident. These steps contribute to the health and safety of the workplace and can save an employer thousands of dollars in legal defence expenses should a worker appeal a dismissal.

The expense associated with developing a drug and alcohol policy and managing a testing program is much less than the expense of handling an employee injury or accident that is due to drug or alcohol use. Mediscreen ( can structure drug and alcohol testing services to fit all employer needs at a reasonable cost. 

This article has been taken from



Friday, May 17, 2013

Sports, Drugs, and Lessons Learned

In February 2013, when the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) announced the results of a year-long investigation into the use of banned drugs in professional sports, including rugby and football, the shock waves were felt by all. Australia is filled with avid sports fans, and for them to read their beloved athletes may have been using performance enhancing drugs and possibly had links to organised crime was distressing. There was mention of drug use, match fixing, and payoffs, all of which made the Australian sports industry sound more like a mafia type organisation.

Now referred to as the ‘drugs-in-sport’ scandal or drama, the damage control experts quickly shifted into high gear after the ACC report was released. Attorneys for the athletes and some politicians are questioning the legality of investigative methods used by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). One of the complaints levied by Sydney MP Daryl Melham is that the ASADA has tainted the reputations of many athletes and had denied them procedural justice. The ASADA wants legislative authority to issue “disclosure notices” to athletes and other support staff that would force them to testify about drugs and drug use in sports.1

Pressure to Perform

It is not just the sports industry dealing with drug use. The entertainment industry is also known to be permeated with illicit drugs. The two industries have a lot in common in that its members are subjected to intense pressure to perform at the highest level possible and have throngs of adoring fans that seem to lead to them believing they are invulnerable to the consequences of drug and alcohol use. Of course, it is also easy to forget that athletes and actors are as human as the typical Australian worker in a mining, construction, or office job. That is precisely why drug and alcohol testing is needed in every industry and not just select ones that are labelled as high risk. Any on-the-job stress can create pressure, and employers play an important role in Australian society as front line deterrents to employee drug and alcohol use.

There are several points all employers should note, whatever the outcome of the ASADA and ACC investigations into illegal drug use and organised crime influence in sports. These points merely reinforce the need for workplace drug and alcohol testing. First, just the suspicion of drug use can create enormous distress and turmoil. One of the reasons Sydney MP Melham is so upset by the report is that just the suggestion of drug use is enough to ruin careers and reputations. The solid evidence provided by drug testing is invaluable because there are no suspicions – only proof or disproof person by person.

Second, drugs do attract the wrong type of people and activities. Justice Minister Jason Clare said, “The ACC has found that professional sport in Australia is highly vulnerable to infiltration by organised crime.”2 Drugs make people and places vulnerable in many ways – emotionally, physically, and to outside influences. This supports the employer arguments that zero tolerance policies are important for more than keeping drugs and alcohol out of the workplace. The policies can also help keep other problems from developing, like drug dealing in the workplace or a culture of drug acceptance from forming.

Third, the economic conditions over the last 5 years have placed enormous pressure on all workers to perform at higher levels. It is not just in the sports or entertainment industries. Every worker feels the pinch of higher expectations due to cost cutting, global economic distress, rising prices, and so on. Like athletes and celebrities, the typical worker must always be on top of the game in order to remain competitive. The industry conditions place pressure on workers, but do not serve as an excuse for turning to drugs or alcohol. There are many ways employers can help staff members cope with the stress. For example, a random drug and alcohol testing program can be one component of a larger wellness program that includes nutrition and fitness seminars or discounted fitness centre memberships.

Preserving Honesty and Integrity

Athletes around the world have turned to drugs to achieve record setting performances. As the ACC, ASADA, and legislators wade through the process of determining “who did what “, the message is clear. A valid, honest drug and alcohol testing program is essential to preserving the honesty and integrity of any business in any industry and to keeping out many undesirable influences. The influence does not have to be large either. No employer wants a worker meeting his or her drug dealer in the parking lot during lunchtime. A lot can be learned from the sports scandal, even though it may seem on the surface to be unrelated to the typical workplace. The lessons are relevant to everyone.

Mediscreen ( is a premier drug & alcohol testing company that can help all Australian employers establish greater legal defensibility and promote substance intolerance in the workplace. Random and accurate testing are key to maintaining a drug free workplace.

 This article has been taken from

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Presenting the Right Reasons for D&A Testing

Crafting drug and alcohol policies and related procedures is just the first step in a process. They must be presented to employees in order to be effective. How those policies and procedures are presented makes an enormous difference in how well workers accept it. A policy can be presented as a tool of punishment for wrongdoers and a dictum from management, or they can be presented by sharing the right reasons for implementing drug and alcohol testing.

Employers always have two choices when explaining the elements of drug & alcohol testing. The first choice is to present a particular requirement in a dictatorial manner that focuses on the negative aspects of drug and alcohol use. The second choice is to present the positive impacts workers will accrue as a result of testing. For example, it is recognized that substance abuse in the workplace presents safety risks. A trainer could say, “Drug and alcohol use is dangerous, and we could get sued if one of our employees causes an accident while under the influence.” On the other hand, you could present the testing program by saying, “We care about the safety and health of all our employees, and maintaining a substance free workplace ensures you can work safely and without worry about drugs and alcohol. The testing is our way of making sure we keep our promise to maintain a safe workplace.”

One of the complaints worker rights advocates have is that drug and alcohol testing is a violation of privacy. An employer could say, “We have the right to test workers for drugs and alcohol according to federal and state (or territory) laws.” Demanding rights is one approach, but a much better approach is to say, “We understand worker privacy concerns, so all test results are kept confidential.”

Presenting Within Context

The drug and alcohol testing program should be presented within the context of the larger business mission and objectives. Employers want to develop and maintain a working environment conducive to employee productivity, which in turn creates achievement opportunities for workers. In fact, worker drug and alcohol use is expensive in many ways. Businesses suffer financially from lower productivity, higher medical and insurance premiums, lost skills utilisation, increased management time spent on dealing with violations, and so on. When the business incurs unnecessary expenses, workers experience financial consequences like lower wage increases.

An excellent example of a drug and alcohol policy and procedures program is presented online by Priority People Solutions (PSS), which is a mining and construction recruitment specialist. Even the title of their policy, Drug and Alcohol Awareness, sets a positive tone. Compare the word ‘awareness’ to the word ‘policy’, and it is easy to recognise the humane approach PPS has adopted in regards to presenting its drug and alcohol policy and procedures.

Presenting drug and alcohol testing as a program instituted for the right reasons can have a major influence on its acceptance. The issue of the right of employers to test for drugs and alcohol has been settled.2 The important fact to remember is that people who internalise a company’s philosophy of keeping all employees safe and healthy are more likely to actively participate in the company’s efforts to maintain a substance free workplace. Presenting the right reasons may simply mean re-wording current training programs so that it is clear the testing is done for everyone’s benefit and contributes to everyone’s success.

To present the right reasons for drug and alcohol testing, the staff must first be trained. Mediscreen ( offers in-depth training and information sessions for managers, staff, and union delegates who are responsible for reassuring employees that high quality testing services are used.

This article has been taken from

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Getting Drugs In and Distributed Throughout Australia

The National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 names three pillars representing strategies to reduce drug consumption in Australia. Topping the list as Pillar 1 is “supply reduction.” Pillar 2 is “demand reduction” and Pillar 3 is “harm reduction.”1 It is notable that reducing the supply of drugs is first because some people claim that convincing people to stop using drugs will eventually lead to the supply drying up. There may be some truth to that theory because the drug trade is a matter of supply and demand economics. However, given the extent of drug use amongst Australians, it is difficult to reduce drug usage when the drugs are so easily available. Recovering addicts must deal with a society where illicit drugs are plentiful. In addition, people are already aware of the dangers of drug use, and yet they continue to use them.

Reducing the availability of drugs requires a multi-pronged approach, which includes preventing, stopping, and disrupting supply chains. The question is: Where are the drugs coming from in the first place and how are they distributed. Most people by now have heard of “meth labs” which are homemade drug production setups. The meth labs need precursor chemicals, which can often be obtained from ordinary and legal drugs. However, the home meth labs are primarily feeding personal drug habits. Illegal drugs like ecstasy, heroin, cannabis, and a host of synthetic substances are feeding a national drug habit. Where are they coming from and how do they get into the hands of drug users, many of whom are employed?

Name the Drug of Choice

The recent revelation that the Australia sporting industry is saturated with drugs was distressing, but the story also provided some insight into a secretive world and offered lessons for employers. The first insight was that not only are drugs widespread throughout Australian athletic teams, but there are organised crime groups involved.2 These groups participate in the manufacturing, importation, and distribution of a variety of drugs, including hormones, peptides, and anabolic steroids. Though these are not drugs tested for in the workplace, the lesson to be learned is that people will go to great lengths to obtain drugs of choice, and there are powerful suppliers ready to keep their drug habits alive on any given day. In the sports world the drugs of choice were hormones and steroids, but for illicit drug users they are drugs like cocaine and heroin.

The Australian Crime Commission has made it clear that the Mexican drug cartels are now supplying the country with a host of drugs.3 Once again, it is a matter of supply and demand. Cocaine is not manufactured in Australia. It is imported. The cartels also import narcotics and other hard drugs, using a sophisticated network of businesses, facilitators, and Australian importers. Once the drugs make it into Australia, there is another organised criminal network ready to distribute the drugs. One of the interesting characteristics of organised crime groups is that they are efficient businesses, able to adapt to the marketplace and change their practices and networks as necessary to evade the law.

The reality is that many of the street dealers are small-time criminals who are serving as the “retail stores” of drug selling. The bigger problem is the major importers and distributors handling millions of dollars worth of drugs. Law enforcement is doing what it can to stem the flow of drugs because cutting off the supply will make it more difficult for people for people to obtain the drugs in the first place and will limit the exposure of recovering drug addicts to substances.

First Line of Defence

Employers can learn one important fact about controlling substance abuse in the workplace from the stories about supply and demand. Drug testing programs are the first line of defence against the proliferation of workplace drugs. Organised crime and Mexican cartels are not bothered in the least by the thought of workers using or dealing drugs. Zero tolerance drug policies and random Alcohol testing programs are critical to making sure there is no supply available in the workplace, even if some employees create a demand.

Each Australian workplace can play a role in reducing the national supply of drugs, simply by developing and enforcing zero tolerance drug policies supported by high quality testing services. Mediscreen ( designates a Mediscreen Coordinator to each client’s workplace to ensure drug and alcohol testing services needs are fully met.

This Article has been taken from

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Questions to Ask Before Crafting a D&A Policy

Without exception, every business needs a drug and alcohol policy, whether or not actual testing is completed. However, a policy not backed up by testing procedures is at risk of failure. If workers know there is no drug and alcohol testing, the risk takers are more likely to use substances in and out of the workplace. 

The question is: Who will be tested and when? This question is only one of many that need to be asked in order to shape drug and alcohol policy and procedures that meet legal requirements, exercise the employer’s duty of care, and protect employee safety in the workplace. Developing a drug and alcohol policy usually begins with deciding that there is zero tolerance for substance use in the workplace. A zero tolerance policy does not mean workers are automatically fired should they test positive, but it does imply that there will be serious consequences. Those consequences could possibly include required counselling, temporary suspension, eventual termination for repeat violations, and so on. In safety-sensitive positions where co-worker and public safety is at risk, immediate job termination might be the consequence, but most Australian employers focus on harm minimisation and try to work with employees who are willing to accept counselling or treatment.

Asking the Right Questions

The first step in developing a policy is to engage employees in a consultative manner and get their input. Though some employers may be tempted to dictate a policy, workers are much more likely to embrace one developed in a partnership between employer and staff. An added benefit is that the employer can get “insider” information on the jobs and departments employees consider the most stressful and at highest risk for injury. The information can be coupled with employer knowledge about the business functions.

There are many questions employers must ask themselves in order to craft the ideal policy for their businesses.1

Will a drug and alcohol testing program be implemented?

What are the expected policy outcomes?

What are the management expectations for worker behaviour for policy compliance?

Will testing be random, done for-cause, or both?

How will “for-cause” be defined?

Who can decide if a for-cause situation exists?

What will be the basis for employee selection for testing (i.e. by department, unit, job description, location, etc.)?

What are the consequences should a worker refuse to be tested?

Who can approach a worker suspected of being under the influence of a substance?

What type of counselling and support will be offered (i.e. Employee Assistance Programs, counselling services, etc.)?

What disciplinary procedures will be followed?

Will there be pre-employment testing?

What is company policy on alcohol and drugs at workplace functions like office parties and other company functions?

What incident reporting procedures will be put in place, including maintaining confidentiality and the system for collection incident information for historical and legal reasons?

What type of training and education program will be instituted and who is expected to ensure employees are properly trained?

What is the policy for an employee returning to work after undergoing counselling or treatment?

What type of training are managers and supervisors expected to complete?

Of course, an employer may be asking at this point: Is this really necessary for a small business? The answer is: Yes. Developing a drug and alcohol policy is important for all sizes of businesses because safety risks exist in the five person business as well as the 500 person enterprise. A well written policy protects the employer and employees and ensures legal and personnel requirements are met and integrated with the values of the organisation.

Efficiency and Consistency

Written policies also demonstrate efficiency and promote consistent decision-making and policy application. That is particularly important when administering a drug and alcohol program because of the sensitive nature of testing. In addition, written policies give teeth to enforcement of the workplace rules, as long as employees are given proper training. Drug and alcohol policies provide a framework for accountability and for measuring worker performance.2

Australian employers have a duty of care to minimise workplace risks. However, employees also have responsibilities to adhere to safety procedures. A drug and alcohol policy gives managers and workers the information they need to fulfil their duties. It all begins by asking the right questions and then strategically answering the questions.

Mediscreen ( provides drug screening services that support the policies and procedures put into place by employers. As a national onsite drug and alcohol screening service provider, the company’s services provide employers greater legal defensibility and access to industry best practices.

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Your Next Task

So, you have implemented drug screening in your business, and have the good sense to check out Mediscreen’s onsitedrug & alcohol testing services, and you have all of your drug screening needs take care of. You are strong and safe in your decisions, and everything is going okay.

Now what? What do you do now that you have everything set up, and after you have run through the process several times?

First of all, if you have not yet experienced workplace drug testing with Mediscreen, go ahead and wait until you’ve done a few rounds of testing with us, first. Make sure that you understand all of the information presented in our reports, and that you can read them fully and accurately. During this time, feel free to contact us as many times as you need to in order to understand the process.

Now, you have run through our scheduling and experience with our company a few times, and it is now necessary to plan what you are going to do with the information you have collected from your drug testing equipment.

To begin with, remember that everyone is likely to get caught at work abusing substances from zero to one times, just because not everyone know how far these rules of yours will be enforced. They wish to know what can be done and how far they are allowed to go.

By the time you see a second infraction by a specific employee, there is cause for concern. In fact, many companies make the second infract the limit of their policy, and the employee is then fired. Some companies give three chances, and some give only one chance.

It cannot matter how bad an employee is grieving over the loss of a loved one or is going through a really bad/dark time in their lives, by the third infraction, such a blatant disregard and disrespect for the rules as defined by your company policy has been shown that they must leave. It is not a matter of giving them another chance or not doing so. It is a matter of protecting the employees who are able to show up to their jobs and produce work for your company. For more information about workplacedrug testing, call us today: (+61) 1300 79 70 40.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Healing Power of Books

Books are one of the greatest sources of exciting and thrilling stories, action adventures, deep study into the human psyche, Jungian portrayal of storytelling archetypes, and basic good fun. Through books, a great deal of learning can be had, and all forms of texts carry with it information, both good and bad, both beneficial and destructive.

In short, books have a lot of power.

Workplace drug testing seeks to utilize this power. Mediscreen provides onsite drug and alcohol screening services to businesses all over Australia, and every day we post articles on our website dedicated to giving more perspectives on why alcohol testing and drug screening is so important for a functioning society to use in the course of its everyday activities. We wish to describe how all forms of onsite drug and alcohol testing are necessary for your company if you wish to protect its assets from your own workers. Not everyone is trustworthy and can be counted upon, but drug screening certainly narrows down the potential list of candidates to reveal some of the best workers available for a job.

Workplace drug testing laws exist to protect entire industries throughout Australia, so that mining and other industrial companies can perform their functions without having to bow to workers unions. Employee safety is continually dependent upon workers being competent and focusing solely upon their activities, rather than being affected by substance abuse.

In all of this, the message about the effect which drugs have upon people would not spread if it were not for books and texts about the subject. There must a way around these small details if employees are to function properly at work, and drug testing in Australia has solved the problem. Every business which implements testing into its regime is purposely and solely acting to benefit itself, and thus society as a whole, since all companies are made up of an entirely human element. When people feel good, they do well, and when they do well, they feel better. For crying out loud, let the positive cycle continue in this day and age. The healing power of books will never stop at our articles. It will continue into the future, just like our commitment to service in the testing fields. 

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Cost of Small Business

If you run the numbers, you will find that the cost of small business is, on average, far more expensive per person and per unit of business than the cost of a large company. What does that mean for you if you own or run a small business?

It means that you must cut costs as much as you possibly can.

Now, we know that small businesses are not jeopardized by government entities or anything like that. Rather, there is much more to running a small business, and the cost to run an operation with fewer people is a greater percentage of the total revenue than for a larger company. Even when employing a large number of people, the total amount of production far outdoes the cost of paying more people. That is why large companies tend to have such a great profit margin with respect to smaller businesses.

When operating your small business, you will still need to implement drug screening and alcohol testing. There is really no way around it. A bad employee can cut into your total revenue to a greater percentage than for a large company. It is necessary to quickly identify and get rid of them.

Fortunately, drug testing Australia is fairly easy to come by, especially the high quality testing that many businesses crave. For example, Mediscreen can service any business at any location in Australia, and we travel to you.

In fact, onsite drug & alcohol testing is one of the most effective ways to cut costs when running a small business. You don’t have to worry about paying extra for overhead lab costs. We come to your place of business and test your employees right onsite. That’s really high value for your money, and we do it quickly and efficiently. Your employee records are kept at your place of business for ease and convenience, and after we are finished, we pack our bags and leave. It is as simple as that. Alcohol and drug testing does not have to be a large added cost or a really big deal. To find out more about the awesome services we provide, call Mediscreen today at: (+61) 1300 79 70 40.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Self Herding and Techniques of Habit

In his acclaimed book, “The Upside of Irrationality,” Dan Ariely describes the “self herding” principle. In self herding, the individual does not look at the emotions which temporarily…oh, so temporarily…governed their past actions. Instead, they look at their past actions alone.

Since we all have a basic strong trust in our own judgment, we look at the past actions and we believe that this must be the way to go next time. So, we keep repeating our actions over and over again, forgetting or never remembering the emotions which inspired our past behavior in the first place.

For example, Sarah has always thought of herself as a good student and a responsible person. One night, after a particularly wild high school party, she decides to get high with some people who are offering her some crack cocaine. Now, her original intention was to try the stuff. However, now when she thinks of herself, she believes herself to be someone who does crack cocaine. This alters her perspective about herself, and she continues doing drugs, in a type of self herding mental processing behavior.

At work, those who complain the loudest bring down the enthusiasm of those around them. Those who are excited and eager about their jobs help others to appreciate and take an interest in their own jobs. If people influence each other in strong ways, just think how much more effective self herding is.

Workplace drug testing exists because people, once they become addicted to illicit drugs, cannot seem to stop themselves from continuing the habit, even when they have a legitimate job and well thought of responsibilities. No, in fact, they find themselves believing them to be drug addicts no matter where they are, and this leads to substance on the jobsite. Drug & alcohol testing is necessary to avoid hiring or retaining employees who have this view of themselves. In order to be a part of a good company, they must be able to understand their own worth and they must consider themselves reliable…not just say that they are. 

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Self Discipline and the Art of Focusing

Self discipline is a huge trait to possess and a very difficult trait to obtain. It involves a great deal of single-mindedness, which is cultivated by focusing to an unbelievable degree on what you are doing.

Now, this focusing is also a difficult thing to obtain in our world of texting, voice alerts, pop up messages, Facebook in all of its many forms and twists, and of course instantaneous video chat. Who wouldn’t be distracted?

When working, it is best to determine what task you will be working on, and then to block out all other distractions so that you can fully concentrate on what you are doing. Now, if you are not used to doing this, old habits like getting up to go get a snack or visiting with someone will get in the way.

It is crucial to focus, to stay focused, and to not be distracted by other things, and this means that you must commit to the moment. Since our minds are capable of so much more than what we are doing at any given moment, it is so easy to think about other things or to be distracted while we are performing menial tasks. However, even something higher up on the brain function scale can be interrupted by other thoughts when we are working on something, especially if we are really familiar with the work that we are performing.

Some of our best qualities as humans involves our ability to plan and to think ahead. And, often, we must literally think ahead at the same time that we are working on a specific task. Something like building a house requires your thoughts to think about a complex process, and not just the immediate subject being addressed. However, you can focus on each task, only thinking of the process in between each step. That frees up your concentration to think about the task at hand and no other.

Naturally, if employees are not following your company’s drug screening policy, their concentration can be deterred by other things besides visiting with coworkers. It is difficult for any employee who is under the influence to focus on what they are doing. That is why workplace drug testing is one of the self disciplines of the great business world. For more information on using onsite drug and alcohol screening services.

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