Alcohol and drugs remain a major problem for the individual, society and many workplaces. As an employer, you can make a big difference by working actively with drug prevention efforts. Drug testing is often an effective and important part of prevention, a prerequisite for the drug test is a written and well-established alcohol and drug policy. There are three reasons to have a well-thought-out drug policy.
1. Find employees at risk early to be able to help them before it hits them physically, socially and economically.
2. Increased safety, quality and productivity of the company.
3. Contractual obligation for you who are a subcontractor to authorities and certain companies. This also applies to many association activities.
A zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs becomes particularly relevant in jobs that require personal judgment or increased attention.
All companies should have an elaborate drug policy, which is a two-legged steering document, prevention and rehabilitation. Preventive measures address whether everyone who is newly recruited should be tested and how many should be randomly checked each year. Also what substances to look for annually. It is also useful to address how staff should be trained in the risks of substance abuse, so that they themselves can avoid being put into risk in the future, and can also more easily identify employees who may have problems.
Those identified as having a risk or addiction should be offered rehabilitation. What type and for how long you also define in your drug policy.
The alcohol and drug prevention measures should be usefully incorporated into systematic work environment management (AFS 2001:1). The mantra of drug policy should be to eliminate the substance abuse problems, not the abuser.
The drug policy should regulate so that the testing activities follow good practice in the labour market and do not unnecessarily interfere with the employee's privacy.
As an entrepreneur, you can require a jobseeker to undergo alcohol and drug tests before the employment contract is executed. However, it is important that this is done in such a way that the jobseeker is not discriminated against.
By testing all new employees for drugs, you clearly show that drugs are not accepted in the workplace. Depending on the substance, this can catch use that is a couple of weeks back in time. But in the end, it only provides a snapshot of the individual and should be supplemented with regular random checks at the workplace.
Drug screening in the case of new hires should also be supplemented with a conversation in which one also asks about the person's alcohol and drug habits to see if any intervention may need to be initiated in the first place or the person should be followed more closely.
In case of random drug screening, we show up unannounced in the workplace and randomly select a given number of workers for testing. This regularly signals to staff that drugs are not tolerated and thus also discourages use. Most employees take a positive view of these tests as it provides a safer working environment for everyone. How many, or what percentage, of the staff are tested is determined in the company's drug policy.
The random drug tests shall primarily prevent alcohol and drugs from gaining a foothold in the business, but also help the worker from possible abuse at the earliest possible stage.
Before a random check, the current supervisor is contacted to ensure that the test does not clash with activity where the staff is not present. No one else is informed that the visit will take place, so for the rest of the staff, our samplers show up unannounced.
The supervisor shows them to a secluded place with toilet. The toilet is prepared according to a special protocol to ensure that cheating cannot take place. All loose objects are removed, taps are sealed and the toilet water is stained.
The supervisor presents a list of all present, we enter the names into a special program that randomizes the number of people agreed.
Each person to be tested may complete a health declaration and consent. If consent is not filled in or if the person refuses to submit a test, it is considered a positive test. Then each person is tested one by one under supervised conditions.
Alcohol is tested by breath tests using the same machine used by the police. The limit value is 0.2❏ alcohol, i.e. the same as in traffic. In some workplaces, zero tolerance may occur.
Drugs are tested either with saliva or urine. Urine testing is the longest and thus the most established, but saliva samples increasingly come as a safe option that of course brings practical benefits. To ensure that urine samples are not diluted, we take the temperature of them to ensure that they maintain body temperature and in the laboratory the level of a bodily substance is checked as additional control.
The material from the drug test, urine stick or saliva sample, is then sent anonymously to an accredited laboratory for analysis. To become an accredited laboratory, high demands are placed on both routines and staff. Exactly which drugs we are looking for is also determined in the company's drug policy but the most common are Cannabis (i.e. hashish and marijuana), Amphetamine, Ecstasy, Heroin, Morphine, Cocaine. Other samples that may be included are Benzodiazepines and Dextropropoxifene.
In case of a positive response, our medical review officer (MRO) will contact the employee to notify the find. As some medicines give a rash on the drug tests, it is not certain that a positive response represents a risk or abuse. Only when this has been established on the basis of the employee's credit is the company representative contacted. What happens next is governed by the company's drug policy where rehabilitation is always in focus.
Every year we compile how many people have been tested, how many have been positive, what measures have been taken for this and suggestions for improvement opportunities. Of course, everything is completely anonymised on group needs, the need to protect the privacy of individuals cannot be overly emphasised.