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Published in Safety Solutions Magazine, Tuesday, 13 March, 2018

The annual cost of alcohol and illicit drug misuse to Australian Society is estimated at $23.7 billion (Collins and Lapsley) with the Australian Drug Foundation reporting that drugs and alcohol in the workplace cost business approximately $6 billion annually through hidden costs, lost productivity and absenteeism. In addition to this cost to business, workers who are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs present a substantial safety risk which must be controlled to ensure compliance with the various work health and safety laws across Australia and minimise the risk of injury to workers and visitors in the workplace and others who may be impacted by the work being conducted.

Dealing with drugs and/or alcohol use in the workplace can be challenging, but as a PCBU you can’t ignore it in the hope that it will go away. You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that your workplace is free of alcohol and/or drugs. Failure to do this means that you can be held liable for any negligent, reckless or wrongful acts committed by workers who are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.

This article explores:

  • When you can test workers for drug and alcohol use

  • How to implement a drug and alcohol program in the workplace

  • The importance of having a robust policy in place

  • What you need to consider when implementing a drug and alcohol policy

  • What type of testing is considered appropriate

  • Who can conduct drug and alcohol tests

  • Privacy considerations

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