Expert doubts effectiveness of workplace drug testing

Dr Ken Pidd
Photo: Flinders University

There is little evidence suggesting that random drug testing in the workplace is effective to reduce drug use of workers, expert warned.

The Deputy director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at the Flinders University, Ken Pidd, said conducting drug tests in the workplace could contribute to the increase in drug use of workers. He also said random drug test is just an easy “tick-a-box” response to the problem.

AAP reported that Dr Pidd presents his finding today at the 2012 Conference of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) in Melbourne.

“Certainly there is very little rigorous research on the effectiveness of workplace drug testing and within that not much support for testing,” said Dr Pidd.

“As a standalone strategy, workplace drug testing is an easy tick-a-box response and an ill-formed reaction to the problem of drug-impaired workers putting themselves and their colleagues at risk of accidents and injuries.”

The expert said workers who are hooked to drugs could simply change their consumption patterns and the types of substance they consume.

He believes workplace drug testing may contribute to the increase in synthetic drug abuse such as Jack3d and Kronic, and pharmaceutical drug abuse.

He said some businesses wrongly believed that drug testing was necessary to meet their workplace health and safety obligations.

“What they need are high-quality education and training programs which help develop a workplace culture conducive to health and safety,” said Dr Pidd.

AAP noted in its report that Western Australia, where many mining companies had adopted urine drug testing, recorded the highest national rate of amphetamine use.


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