White-collar drug testing on the rise

by 17 Jan 2012

The long boozy lunch may be a thing of the past for employees in some white-collar industries as many Australian businesses, including law firms, IT companies and medical clinics, introduce workplace drug testing.

Australian Workplace Drug Testing Services director Tony Graham told The Age that white collar sectors have become interested in testing, which until recently was nearly exclusively the domain of industry and the mining sector.

“In one case a fatigued office worker put an electric stapler through his thumb, while in a separate incident a worker came back from lunch after a couple of drinks and got his tie caught in a paper shredder,” Graham said.

Research by Dr Ken Pidd of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction found that 1% of workers usually take drugs at work, and 2% were regularly under the influence of drugs while at work.

Other key findings included:

  • 90% of positve drug test readings are from legal drugs
  • 5% of workers tested for alchohol return a BAC above 0.05

Alcohol remains a more widespread problem, and some 9% of all Australian workers regularly consume alcohol within the workplace, according to a study of 10,000 Australian employees.

Pidd said the high rate of alcohol use within the office was surprising, and said the majority of workplace alcohol consumption generally takes place when people stay back after work to share a drink.

“While that sounds pretty innocent, the fact still remains that injuries and fatalities that occur while you are travelling to and from work are often still covered by insurance,” he added.


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