Drugs and working on mine sites – not a good mix

A recent ruling by the Fair Work Commission has banned the use of urine tests for the detection of drugs and alcohol for workers at the NSW Government-owned electricity network company Endeavour Energy.

The commission labelled the use of urine tests “unjust and unreasonable” in a case which could have wider implications for a range of industries, including mining.

The Electrical Trades Union said the decision confirmed two previous court rulings that found the use of urine tests was unfair because it could detect drug use from days earlier, rather than more recent use that could lead to impairment at work.

ETU NSW deputy secretary Neville Betts said the decision highlighted that the role of drug and alcohol testing in the workplace should be about identifying potential impairment, rather than disciplining staff for private actions taken in their own time.

“While oral testing accurately identifies recent drug use, where an individual may be impaired in their abilities, urine tests unfairly monitor workers’ private lives by potentially showing a positive result even where a substance may have been used many days prior, in a private capacity.”

But is what employees do while they’re not working really just their own business?

Mine sites are dangerous places to work at the best of times, with heavy machinery and equipment a staple on any project – do we really want people with drugs in their systems on Australian mine sites?

Some argue that what people do on their days off is their business and if they want to smoke a cone or take a hit of meth they should be able to do so as long as their actions does not affect their ability to work safely once back on the job.

We say bollocks to that.

In a society where having a job is a privilege and not a right, the timeline around when a person took something and whether it is still showing up their system even though they are not still directly impaired is of little consequence.

Don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to work with someone who had a bender at the weekend and then turned up to work feeling ‘fine’.

Isn’t this just like getting behind the wheel after a few drinks feeling OK but being pulled over and blowing 0.07?

While we don’t suggest urine tests should be used as a tool of control – we do think that if you have residual drugs tracing through your blood you should not be allowed to work on a mine site, ever.

For your sake, and the sake of people around you.