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Agency Supports EMA’s Findings on Workplace Drug Testing

New Zealand Drug Detection Agency Supports EMA’s Survey Findings on Workplace Drug Testing

The New Zealand Drug Detection Agency (NZDDA) supports the workplace drug testing survey results published late last week by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA). The survey highlighted the need for more clarity for employers in workplace drug testing policies.

NZDDA’s chief executive Chris Hilson says, ”It’s essential for any business to have robust workplace drug and alcohol testing policies. Well considered, legally correct and properly implemented policies protect not only an employer but also their employees.”

Andrew Schirnack, partner of specialist employment law firm LangtonHudsonButcher agrees, “Having a carefully drafted policy that is both appropriate to the particular workplace and properly introduced is the starting point for lawful workplace drug and alcohol testing. Employers should then take care to abide by their own policies when undertaking testing. The Employment Court has made it clear that it won’t tolerate employers departing from the rules they’ve set for themselves in policy.”

NZDDA has reported on workplace drug testing data for the past three years. In 2012 NZDDA conducted 68,561 on-site drug screening tests, up 31% from 2011. This followed an increase of 77.7% from the 29,513 tests carried out in 2010. For 2013, NZDDA expects to conduct around 90,000 on-site workplace drug tests.

Much of NZDDA’s workplace drug testing takes place in safety-sensitive sectors such as transport, mining (including oil andgas), forestry and construction. The company is also seeing an upward trend in drug screen hair testing in the white-collar sector.

“For both employees and employers, it’s essential that any on-site drug testing is carried out by a fully compliant testing organisation. NZDDA is New Zealand’s only fully compliant AS/NZS4308:2008 IANZ-accredited (International Accreditation New Zealand) on-site drug and alcohol testing provider. This gives our clients, and their employees, a very high level of comfort that testing is undertaken to the best possible standard,” says Mr Hilson.

NZDDA’s annual data confirms EMA’s survey results that cannabis is the most frequently detected drug in the company’s workplace drug screening. NZDDA’s 2012 data records 71% of the non-negative tests detected cannabis, up from 68.5% in 2011. Opiates were detected in 18% of non-negative tests in 2012, up from 15.9% in 2011.

Mr Hilson concludes, “NZDDA is supportive of EMA’s survey results. It’s essential to have clarity on how and why employers may carry out on-site workplace drug screening. Robust workplace drug and alcohol on-site screening policies are the key to ensure safe workplaces for all.

“Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for all their staff, particularly in the safety sensitive sectors. Workplace safety is vital to the health of New Zealand business. On a personal level people’s health and livelihoods are at stake. Having the ability to accurately test and identify the presence of drugs in the workplace has got to be good for business and, ultimately, the New Zealand economy.”

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