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Can I test my employees for drugs?

by , 30 May 2013
Alcohol and drug abuse can cause huge expenses for your business, from lost productivity to injuries and an increase in health claims.

But what can you do about it?

Let's take a look at what our Health and Safety expert told Jack (one of our subscribers), when he wrote in with a question to find out about drug and alcohol testing of employees.


Did you know that if you employ even one worker, you must comply with this legislation?

Did you know that if you hire contractors to work on your site or at your workplace that this legislation also applies to you?

If you don't comply with the COID Act you could end up facing criminal prosecution.

I have a solution that'll make sure you comply with all your COID obligations and have the correct paperwork in place!


Can we implement regular drug and alcohol tests for employees?

Jack wants to implement alcohol and drug tests on all employees regularly. He wants to know what are the legal implications for having these tests done, and what they must do to be able to implement these tests.

Here's the answer from Nell Brown, our Health and Safety expert

You can't allow employees under the influence of alcohol or drugs to enter or stay at work. (General Safety Regulation 2A of the OHSA).

So if you want to implement drug and alcohol testing here's what you must do:

  • Draw up a policy and procedure of how and when you'll do the alcohol and drug testing and what you'll do with people found over the legal limit.
  • Inform all your employees of this policy and procedure and the consequences of arriving at work under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work.
  • Get your union representatives involved in drawing up this procedure from the start, so there's no conflict when you start the implementation.

I know you're obliged to organise periodical training of employees, BUT

Aren't you tired of having to arrange and prepare the sessions, especially since you don't always have a ready-to-use format?

Are you always aware of what you're legally required to include when it comes to training?

Now, you can have a for all your employees without the exorbitant costs! 


What should you do with employees that test positive for drugs and alcohol?

The type of sanctions you could include for employees that test positive for drugs and alcohol can include:

  • Send the employee home and take it out of his annual leave;
  • On the second occurrence, send the employee home and take a day's leave. Also send the employee for counselling to see if there's underlying problems that may need attention;
  • Persistent occurrence could be a dismissible offence. Discuss this with your HR department and align this with your Disciplinary Code.

If you implement drug testing, there are some points of caution. Some of the anti-retroviral drugs used for treating AIDS may cause a false positive result for some drug tests. So any positive rapid drug test needs to be repeated with further testing for confirmation.

5 key questions to ask yourself when conducting random drug tests

  1. Do you have a written workplace drug and alcohol testing policy that specifies how random testing will be conducted?
  2. Can you prove that the testing method is fair and not discriminatory in any way?
  3. Are the tests applicable to the drug in question and do they comply with legislation?
  4. Have you (as an employer) appointed appropriate individuals or members of staff to conduct drug and alcohol testing and have they been adequately trained to do this?
  5. Are the correct procedures in place to deal with an employee who has committed an offence and tested positive for drug and alcohol abuse?

Check out the Health and Safety Advisor to find out you can create a drug-free workplace in just 5 steps.

Until next time,

Stay safe.


Kerusha Narothan
Managing Editor: Health and Safety Advisor

P.S. You can also get your questions answered and answer other people's questions - all you have to do is register on the Health and Safety Club,  it's FREE

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