Practical steps for dealing with substance misuse in the workplace
What is substance misuse?
Substance misuse (or abuse) is defined as the sustained use of any mind-altering substance. This includes legal substances like solvents and alcohol as well as illegal drugs. Through this continued use the user’s physical and mental health are severely affected. The misuse of substances in the workplace can cause issues such as increased absenteeism, low productivity and create an unsafe working environment.
It is estimated that between 3% and 5% of all work absences are due to alcohol abuse and that 1 in 30 employees has had drugs in their system at one time in the workplace. All employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and so statistics like this cannot be ignored.
What can employers do?
As an employer, it is important that measures are taken to protect all employees and the company from potential dangers. To do this, employers should:
Introduce a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy. This lets all stakeholders know exactly where the company stands on substance misuse and shows that you are being proactive in your approach.
Conduct drug and alcohol testing. Utilising random and/or with cause testing can help quickly identify any substance misuse issues. Consider including a contractual obligation for employees to co-operate with this.
Train staff to identify the signs of substance misuse. Make everyone aware of the issue and give them the ability to look for the key signs. This can only help increase safety.
Keep up-to-date with the latest legislation. The laws on substance misuse can change quite quickly, especially as new substances like legal highs are identified and re-classified. Ensure you are aware of the latest changes.
Support employees. Addiction or frequent misuse of substances should be treated the same way as other health issues. Offer support to your employees and help them make a quick return to work.
The above steps can help better manage the issue of substance misuse in the workplace. Effectively communicating the company’s stance on this issue to employees brings clarity and lets everyone know where they stand.
Randox Testing Services
At Randox Testing Services we offer comprehensive drug and alcohol testing solutions for workplaces. We incorporate cutting-edge screening methods to provide an outstanding testing service and are well-positioned to provide consultancy and support to help you put an effective workplace drug and alcohol testing policy in place.
For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Contact us or visit our website to read more.
Implementation of an effective substance misuse policy establishes employer rights to conduct workplace drug and alcohol testing if required. In addition, it ensures adherence to the duty of care of an employer to protect their workforce and keep employees safe. There are a range of approaches available to complement your policy to ensure a safer working environment. In this blog we take a look at two common types of testing; random testing and with-cause testing.
With knowledge that a test could be conducted with anyone at any time, random testing is the most effective deterrent of drug abuse or alcohol misuse among employees. Ensuring the integrity of staff across all levels, random testing can be conducted with employees at any level, from temporary employees to managers and directors.
The process includes ensuring a clear workplace drug and alcohol testing policy is in place. Employees should also be made aware that random drug and alcohol testing is carried out; this can take the form of a clear statement in an employee’s contract outlining that random testing can be conducted with little to no notice. Notification of this conforms to legislation whilst respecting employee rights.
Secondly, we will work with you to determine the percentage of your workforce you would like to test, and how often you would like testing to be carried out. Whilst we recommend random drug and alcohol testing should be performed at least quarterly, the decision is yours. To avoid employee discrimination and to ensure testing is random, we use our random selection technology to eliminate bias and provide accurate random selections.
Finally, we will arrive to your workplace unannounced to carry out sample collections from the random selection of employees.
By implementing a random drug testing may help employers by:
- Deterring current employees from engaging in drug use
- Preventing the need for substance abuse recovery programs
- Employees are less likely to tactfully try to disguise results, or alter their habits, as they will be given little to no notice that a test is going to be conducted
- Improving attendance and employee productivity
- Providing a safer workplace with reduced accidents
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971), if an employer suspects an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are legally required to take appropriate action to protect the safety of the employee concerned, other members of staff and the public.
The nature of with-cause testing means that testing can be required ‘on-the-spot’. At Randox Testing Services, we offer a 24-hour call-out service which guarantees an experienced collection officer will arrive to your company within a maximum of 2 hours to perform a sample collection. This service is available 24/7, 365 days a year and complies fully with chain of custody procedures.
- Legal compliance with correct measurements being taken if an employee is suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Can deter employee misuse of drugs or alcohol due to a workplace testing policy being in place
- Cost savings because of increased productivity with issues being discovered and rectified early
How Randox Testing Services can help
At Randox Testing Services we possess a wealth of experience and knowledge that enables us to offer holistic packages to meet the needs of the customer, regardless of their location or industry. This knowledge comes from over 35 years of testing experience in the diagnostics industry and through our involvement with bodies that help shape testing legislation.
For more information about our range of drug & alcohol testing products, our expertise in this industry and our array of support services, visit www.randoxtestingservices.com.
If you would like to speak with one of our experts, use any of the following methods:
Phone: +44 (0) 28 9445 1011
Want to know more?
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Addressing Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace
Within any business, companies seek to outline clear methods in which employees should act and behave whilst carrying out their roles. These rules are outlined in company workplace policies. Every business – no matter which industry it operates in – should have well-documented and comprehensive workplace policies and procedures in place.
According to the Employment Law Handbook, a workplace policy is a set of rules and principles that aims to provide guidance to managers and workers in how to behave in the workplace. They can be in place for numerous different issues – bullying, harassment, internet use, health and safety are just a few that can be implemented.
Health and Safety
As mentioned above, health and safety is an important aspect of any workplace policy. The health and well-being of the working community is of utmost importance for sustainable development. Specifically, a drug and alcohol policy is a key part of the overall health and safety policy within a company. Alcohol and drugs through their effects on health, safety, work performance and absenteeism can jeopardise productivity, deny businesses the leading edge and curtail competitiveness. Effectively implemented drug and alcohol policies will help employers in the legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees.
The need for a Drug and Alcohol Policy
Drugs and alcohol misuse can have dangerous consequences within the workplace. All organisations can benefit from an agreed policy that applies to all staff. There are wide range of statistics available to highlight the worrying impact that drugs and alcohol can have on individuals. In 2016, it was estimated that £7 billion was lost in productivity through unemployment and sickness. Furthermore, 10.8 million adults in England are drinking at levels that pose some risk to their health. A survey carried out by UK based Health and Safety Consultants Protecting.co.uk showed that; from 2,600 workers in office, factory, retail and the public sector, 85% admit to being drunk at work in the last year; not including the Christmas party. 28% of those surveyed admitted using drugs at work, including NPS (formerly legal highs) cannabis and other illegal substances.
From a legal point of view, employers have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees. Also, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to assess the risks to the health and safety of employees. If an employer knowingly allows an employee under the influence of drug misuse to continue working and his/her behaviour places the employee or others at risk, they may face prosecution.
Advantages of having policies in place
Having well-developed policies and procedures can provide a range of benefits to an organisation. An effectively implemented drug and alcohol policy will ensure a clear understanding within the workplace of the rules relating to drugs and alcohol. It will also provide a greater awareness in workplaces of the effects of drugs and alcohol an consequently early recognition. Furthermore, it ensures that the necessary structures and procedures are in place should a problem arise. An up to date policy will also provide assurance that key staff have been trained to understand the issues involved and have the necessary skills to deal with any problems should they arise.
How can Randox Testing Services help?
At Randox Testing Services we offer a comprehensive consultancy service to help employers create an effective substance misuse policy. By providing this service we offer practical advice, guidance and support in composing a substance misuse policy.
Our confidential policy review service provides assistance to employers with an existing substance misuse policy. With this service, we help to modify existing documents to ensure it is legally viable and can withstand challenge in court.
To read more about workplace polices and their importance within an organisation, click here.
Want to know more?
Contact us or visit our website to read more.
Randox Biosciences introduces the innovative Randox Drug Induced Kidney Injury Array (DIKI). The new panels allow superior monitoring of nephrotoxicity for enhanced safety in drug development. It has been developed to identify four early stage markers of DIKI by screening for the biomarkers KIM-I, NGAL, Cystatin C, and Clusterin which have been identified as more sensitive than transitional testing methods to enhance accurate diagnosis of DIKI.
Our Biochip Array Technology enables multiplex immunoassay testing. The DIKI panel of 4 markers is combined on a single biochip, enabling simultaneous results from each patient sample, delivering:
- Excellent inter-assay precision and required sensitivity
- Superior specificity
- Lower sample volume
- Fast turnaround time
- Safer drug development
With the number of hospitalised patients who develop a drug-induced renal problem due to the numbers of potent drugs have been added to the therapeutic arsenal in recent year1 – the DIKI can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health and wellbeing. Blakely stated that “drug-induced nephrotoxic contributes to 8 to 60% of all cases of AKI seen on the intensive care unit (ICU)”.2 Randox offers a 4-plex Drug Induced Kidney Injury test which detects early stage toxicity across the nephron, assisted through composite measurement. Earlier and more reliable detection of drug-induced kidney injury would improve clinical care and help to streamline drug-development. (Dieterle et al., 2010)3.
The poor sensitivity of serum creatinine for detecting and monitoring DIKI is well documented in academic journals. As a result, for early phase trials European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are encouraging the use of more novel urinary biomarkers alongside conventional safety monitoring. The new panel will be able to identify the levels of toxicity present in the kidneys which is classified as one of the most common side effects of drug development trials.
The new Randox Drug Induced Kidney Injury (DIKI) panel can help you conduct clinical trials safer and faster. For more information contact email@example.com.
At Randox Testing Services our complete testing solutions include flexible drug and alcohol testing methods that can be tailored to meet our customer needs. In all aspects of testing we ensure the accuracy and reliability of results and utilise strict chain of custody procedures across all our testing methods.
To guarantee the most effective form of testing our dedicated Account Managers make informed recommendations to our customers on what type of testing best suits their business needs. The different methods are outlined below along with the sample types that can be tested:
Drug and Alcohol Testing Methods
Conducted as a follow up on a confirmed positive drug or alcohol test. If an employer provides support to an employee who has had a confirmed positive drug or alcohol test, this type of testing may be used to help with rehabilitation.
Used to determine if drugs or alcohol may have contributed to an accident/incident in the workplace. This type of testing can be an effective tool in accident investigations and it is our recommendation that should an incident occur, all employees involved should be tested.
This is the most popular type of workplace testing especially in industries which have safety critical roles. This type of testing is an essential part of a company’s recruitment process and clearly states the company’s position on drug and alcohol misuse for any potential employee.
A popular type of testing within workplaces as it acts as a deterrent to drug and alcohol abuse. A company’s drug and alcohol testing policy should clearly outline that they carry out random workplace testing ensuring employees do not know when the event is planned.
Performed when a company is suspicious that an employee may be currently under the influence of alcohol or misusing drugs. This suspicion is normally raised if an employee is acting out of character and there has been observed different behaviours.
Urine (Alcohol and Drugs)
The most common sample type for drug testing and offers a longer detection window than oral fluid for drugs.
Oral Fluid (Drugs only)
Oral fluid testing analyses a saliva sample for parent drugs and their metabolites, providing analysis of short-term drug abuse.
Hair (Alcohol and Drugs)
A hair drugs test offers a longer window of detection than alternative testing and can provide a detailed view or overall picture of drug use. Detection window is based on hair length with 1cm of head equating to approximately 1 month of detection.
Breath (Alcohol only)
Breath can be tested for alcohol using hand-held devices which provide immediate results. These devices can gauge blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring deep lung air.
About Randox Testing Services
Randox Testing Services is a market leader in the drug and alcohol testing industry. Our expertise is relied upon by a range of leading safety-critical companies across the world.
We pride ourselves on helping our customers improve the health and safety of their working environment through helping them implement a comprehensive substance misuse policy. Our expertise within this industry allows us to craft customised packages to meet the testing needs of any workplace. Our drug and alcohol testing methods are flexible to adapt to any changes and our testing processes are accurate, to guarantee reliable results.
Want to know more?
Contact us or visit our website to read more.
In early May 2019, over 550 state employees in Egypt were referred to the Egyptian public prosecution office after being forced to take a drug test under a new law.
The Ministry of Social Solidarity announced on May 5th that 15,877 state employees had recently been drug tested, and that 555 had been referred to the Administrative Prosecution Authority (APA) for testing positive for illegal drugs.
The sudden crackdown on drug users follows the government in Egypt approving a bill in March that authorised the required drug testing of all state employees from ministerial to the local level. Alongside members of the civil service, employees working for public transportation, hospitals, and other state-run institutions must also be drug tested. Anyone who refuses to be drug tested will have their employment terminated.
The new law was brought in with explicit support from Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli, following a deadly train crash in Cairo after which the train driver tested positive for drug use.
Egyptian law does not specify the punishment for someone who tests positive for drug use, but the director of Egypt’s Fund for Drug Control and Treatment – Amr Osman – has warned that any state bus or rail drivers testing positive for drug use face imprisonment for at least two years, and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($582).
University students and employees will also be subject to mandatory drug testing, the education minister has announced. In this case, people who test positive will be offered “treatment” and will be sacked or expelled from the university if they refuse to comply.
Randox Toxicology offer the Evidence MultiSTAT, a fully automated immunoanalyser that, utilising Biochip Array Technology (BAT), enables on-site simultaneous detection of up to 21 drugs of abuse from a single sample. The Evidence MultiSTAT requires only a small sample volume and can generate results in under 20 minutes. The process from sample entry to results is completed in only 3 simple steps, with minimal room for human error. The MultiSTAT is designed to make set-up and analysis as quick, simple and reliable as possible.
At Randox Testing Services, we are always trying to think of new ways to get the message across about the positive impact workplace drug & alcohol testing can have on an organisation. So, we decided to speak with one of our colleagues; Simon Tibbo, who is regularly engaging with companies about how to be proactive in minimising the risks of substance misuse.
Read below to find out what he had to say.
From your experience and knowledge, what industries are currently implementing testing programmes?
Apart from the finance industry, I’ve personally seen testing programmes within almost all business sectors, from the obvious, safety critical industries, Rail Track, Maritime, Construction, Logistics, all the way through to manufacturing firms, retail outlets, and even predominantly clerical companies. If a company has a workplace substance misuse policy and are looking to satisfactorily enforce the terms within, they will be engaged with a service provider, such as Randox, to properly support the policy.
What are, in your opinion, the barriers that companies face when trying to implement working drug & alcohol testing?
The introduction of a substance misuse policy to an already existing ‘company handbook’ can be a challenge, especially if the work-force has been established for some time. People don’t tend to like change, especially within the workplace. Unions can sometimes be unwelcoming to the idea of random testing and will often look to restrict the scope of testing or the policy itself. I’d say that each industry/company will likely meet its own barriers whilst developing and implementing a policy, and some may well be unique to the individual circumstances. Often, customers may implement an amnesty period prior to the commencement of a drug testing programme. This gives employees the opportunity to come forward and declare if they have a substance misuse issue which they can address together with their employer without sanctions.
Why has there been a delay in some companies developing workplace policies that directly relate to substance misuse?
There could be many reasons as to why a company hasn’t implemented a policy, but I’d expect somewhere near the top of that list would be either the assumption there isn’t a substance misuse issue within the business/industry, the worry that a substance misuse issue within the business/industry is highlighted by the introduction of a policy, and therefore creating more problems than its seen to be solving, or even that a company is simply unaware the solution is available and beneficial.
How important within a policy is it that a company clearly outlines what is expected of an employee, and the consequences of substance misuse?
Very! A policy needs to be clear and concise in its structure and procedures. If you aren’t explaining the terms or the consequences you could potentially end up with a problematic HR process and unresolvable tribunal cases. If an employee has sight of a straightforward policy they will know what to expect if the terms are breached, not to mention enforcing it should be equally as straightforward. It is also important to state why the policy is in place – i.e. to protect the workforce, the public and the company reputation.
Is it important to state cut-offs in substance misuse policies?
For alcohol, yes, most certainly. For drugs, not so much. An alcohol test with a home office approved breathalyser will provide an evidential result, which can be directly related to a ‘site cut-off’ (in the same manner as the existence of a road legal limit). Workplace drug testing should adhere to specific guidelines set-out by the EWDTS (European Workplace Drug Testing Society) in not just it’s procedures, but also its expected substance cut-offs. The cut-offs differ between substances so it’s not quite as straightforward. My suggestion would always be, if you feel it necessary to include drug cut-off information, refer to the EWDTS guidelines, they’re available to download on the EWDTS website if anyone needs sight, but ensure your provider is working to them and don’t go into full details, it’ll serve only to add unnecessary bulk to what should ideally be a streamlined policy.
How effective has workplace testing been in helping companies reduce the risk of drug & alcohol use?
From personal experience I can tell you, I’ve seen companies implement a policy/testing practice due to an awareness of substance misuse, only to reduce the volume of testing over time as the approach has proved successful in reducing or eradicating the specific problem. I’d say that’s a testament to implementing a random testing practice, it sends a sensible message in a fair and balanced manner, which ultimately gets results. If it’s done right, it’s going to be beneficial, even if it’s not particularly well received at its inception. Other examples where testing volume has been scaled back have led to an increase in the rates of positives demonstrating that an active testing programme is a deterrent to substance misuse.
Going forward, what industries do you see adopting a more proactive approach in use of substance misuse testing?
Likely most industries, every company has a duty of care to staff, contractors, visitors and/or the public. There will always be industries that don’t agree, don’t want to uncover issues or don’t believe they exist, but it’s the people that matter and the more that’s done to promote safety, welfare and overall good practice, the more industries will settle to the idea.
About Randox Testing Services
Randox Testing Services offer a wide range of products and services for the testing of illicit substances. We can craft customised packages to suit the needs of our customers, no matter what the industry.
Our expertise and experience working within this industry allow us to provide a range of testing solutions that will impact the risk of substance use in the workplace. With an extensive collection network and quality products, we can meet the needs of your business.
To find out more, contact us:
Phone: +44 (0) 28 9442 2413
Amidst growing concerns of an opioid-abuse epidemic in the United States, it has been established that kratom (Mitragynine) is increasing in popularity amongst opioid users and has been reported as the new ‘legal high’.
Kratom is an unendorsed herb substance which has not yet been criminalized in the United States and is considered a powerful analgesic with opioid-like effects at high doses and acts as a stimulant at lower doses. Often used as a treatment for chronic pain or opiate withdrawal patients, it also comes in the form of a dietary supplement. As there are no Federal regulations monitoring the sale and distribution of Kratom the substance continues to be readily available and easily accessible via the internet, increasing its abuse by chronic pain patients on prescription opioids.
Kratom has been associated with psychosis, seizures, and has recently cited 100 deaths over a 17-month period by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In previous reports, the Food and Drug Administration had warned against the use of Kratom to ease opioid withdrawal, as many pain physicians are not familiar about its addictive properties. Further the DEA plans to classify kratom as a Schedule 1 substance.
Are you testing for Kratom?
Randox Toxicology are the only suppliers for the detection of Kratom. Alongside our exclusive highly sensitive kratom ELISA test, this drug of abuse is available on our New Psychoactive Substances II panel, which utilises our universally available patented Biochip Array Technology.
Offering excellent cross-reactivity and unrivalled limits of detection over a range of routine and novel assays Biochip Array Technology is the world’s first multiplex screening technology. Designed to work across multiple matrices such as urine, blood, and oral fluid its intra and inter assay precision is typically <10% giving excellent correlation with confirmatory methods.
For more information regarding our Kratom tests get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Scotland is set to introduce a new “zero tolerance” policy to those caught driving under the influence of drugs. Ministers in Scotland want to make it easier for police officers to target people driving with illegal drugs in their bloodstream. The policy will supersede the current need to prove that someone was driving in an impaired manner as a result of drug consumption. The law in Scotland currently states that it is illegal to drive if impaired by drugs, be it prescription or illegal drugs.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said “The introduction of drug driving limits will strengthen the power of Scotland’s police and prosecutors to tackle the minority of drivers who irresponsibly put themselves and other road-users at risk. Drug driving is completely unacceptable, and we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to prevent the avoidable deaths and damage caused by those who drive under the influence of drugs. Together with our stringent drink-driving limits, these new laws will ensure that Scotland have the UK’s most robust laws against impaired and unsafe driving.”
Under the new plan, eight of the most commonly abuse illegal drugs – including heroin, ketamine and ecstasy – will have limits set very close to zero to rule out claims of accidental exposure. A further eight drugs, which can have medicinal purposes – such as diazepam and methadone – will have higher limits based on their ability to impair drivers. These proposals would mean just having drugs in your system that breach the limits, this is sufficient evidence to prosecute.
Randox Testing Services are delighted to announce that we will be attending the Northern Ireland Construction Expo. Titanic Exhibition Centre will be the venue for the event, taking place on 13th February.
The NI Construction Expo brings together over 2000 construction companies, developers, policy makers, project owners and a plethora of other organisations, to provide an environment of debate, further knowledge in the design, construction and management of Northern Ireland’s buildings, infrastructure and industrial projects.
Attending the event will be our Senior Business Development Executive David O’Regan and our Business Development Executive Jim Windsor. Both have many years’ experience in workplace drug and alcohol testing and they will be more than happy to answer any questions you have regarding implementing a workplace testing policy.
Our Sales Executive Jim Windsor will be speaking at the event, providing those in attendance how drug & alcohol testing in the construction industry can have a positive impact on a business in this safety-critical environment.
If you would like to arrange a meeting with our team, please contact email@example.com. We will be exhibiting at stand B11B, make sure you stop by and have a chat to our team for any drug & alcohol testing related queries you may have.
Randox Testing Services
Randox Testing Services is part of the Randox Laboratories group, a global market leader in the diagnostics industry with over 35 years’ experience. Founded in 1982 by current Managing Director, Dr Peter FitzGerald CBE FREng, Randox is dedicated to accurate and sensitive sample testing. The ethos within Randox is to produce quality products, supported by continual investment in research and development.
Randox Testing Services is a specialist in the drug and alcohol testing industry. Our expertise is relied upon by a range of leading safety-critical companies across the UK, Ireland and internationally, as well as the medico-legal sector.
Visit our website today for more information:
Medico-legal Testing: https://www.randoxtestingservices.com/medico-legal-testing/
Private Individuals: https://www.randoxtestingservices.com/private-individuals/
Phone: +44 (0) 161 741 2760