June 15, 2016 [AYR, ON] – Over the past few months there has been a resurgence of interest in random testing in Canada for non-U.S. Department of Transportation regulated companies in safety sensitive industries as more workplaces recognize the value of this type of testing as a deterrent.
Evidence shows random testing is an effective deterrent
Random testing for alcohol and drugs has been an effective deterrent in the transportation industry. Between 1996 and 2010, DriverCheck performed approximately 240,000 random drug tests for DOT-regulated employers in Canada and saw positive rates among drivers fall from 2.3 percent in 1996 to less than 0.5 percent in 2010. That’s a decline of more than 80 percent. Positive rates in other industries are often significantly higher than the trucking industry and there is even more opportunity for improvement. The statistics show that random testing is an effective deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the job, and increasingly, more employers are seeing the value in it. By reducing positive rates and thereby mitigating the safety risks, random testing has the potential to reduce the number of accidents and incidents in the workplace. Studies in the past have shown that random alcohol testing alone was correlated with a 14.5% reduction in alcohol involvement among large truck drivers.[i]
Identification of workers with risk taking behaviour
One of the main goals of random testing is to be an effective deterrent. However, other goals include the identification of workers who carry out risk taking behaviour and the identification of those with a substance abuse issue. Typically when a random program is put in place, people with a problem will come forward as they know they will have a positive test eventually. In this scenario, intervention and treatment could prove valuable in preventing accidents and helping workers regain their medical qualification to return to safety sensitive work. By identifying and treating individuals who engage in risk taking behaviour, or who have a substance abuse issue, you are better able to improve the health and safety of these workers while also ensuring they are fit for duty.
Proof of a problem could pave the way for more random testing
In 2013, Canada’s top court ruled that random alcohol or drug testing may be allowed in certain unionized workplaces where there is evidence of enhanced safety risks, such as a general problem with substance abuse. Read a summary of the decision in Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. vs. the Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 and its implications for unionized and non-unionized workers.
How does an employer know if it’s worth the risk?
The overwhelming reason for moving forward with such a program is the identification of an alcohol and/or drug problem either by way of anecdotal evidence based on feedback from supervisors, or high positive alcohol and drug testing rates for post-incident and reasonable cause tests. Whether unionized or not, if you have tried all other measures to curb an alcohol or drug problem in your workplace and you still believe there is a problem, random testing can be a way of raising the bar to address this risk. For more answers to your questions, visit DriverCheck’s Random Alcohol and Drug Testing: FAQ.
Experience and knowledge you can trust
DriverCheck has been Canada’s largest provider of random alcohol and drug testing programs since our inception in 1996. We currently perform random selections on crews of helicopters, oil rigs, ships, transportation and more. To make sure your program is fair and defensible we use software to ensure selections are truly random.
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[i] Snowden, Cecelia B., Miller, Ted R., Waehrer, Geetha M., Spicer, Rebecca S. Random Alcohol Testing Reduced Alcohol-Involved Fatal Crashes of Drivers of Large Trucks. J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs 68: 634-640, 2007.
About DriverCheck Inc.:
Since its inception in 1996, DriverCheck Inc. (DC) has been the leading provider of medical testing and assessments in Canada. Physician-owned and operated, DC has grown to become the largest national provider of workplace medical testing, and was one of the first Third Party Administrators in Canada to offer DOT-regulated alcohol and drug testing. DC’s head office is located in the village of Ayr, the heart of Ontario’s transportation hub. DC currently serves over 5,000 employers, with access to over 1,000 testing facilities strategically located across the country, providing easy access to all medical services. Our diverse service offerings include alcohol and drug testing, fatigue management, occupational health and injury management programs (including remote medical services). DC services a wide array of industries including transportation, oil & gas, mining, forestry and medical.
As Canada’s ‘Fitness for Duty’ leader, DC’s top priority is the safety of your staff and workplace.
To learn more about DriverCheck, visit www.DriverCheck.ca or call 1 (800) 463-4310.