In its bid to set behavioural standards for its construction sites, the Australian government will be implementing changes to the Building Code, including mandatory drug testing on most Commonwealth-funded building sites, starting October 16, 2015, says an article contribution by Cathy Cato for Sourceable.
Comprehensive workplace drug policy needs to be established
The Building Code changes are now requiring contractors to establish a comprehensive workplace drug policy, which should stipulate mandatory drug tests and a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol as well.
As for the mandatory drug tests on construction sites, the Building Code requires both construction and site office workers to be tested frequently and periodically, and has set some guidelines for its conduct.
Guidelines for mandatory drug tests on construction sites
If there are less than 30 workers on site, at least 10 per cent of the workforce should be tested per month. Sites that have 30 to 100 workers, meanwhile, will need to test a minimum of five workers per month. The preceding number will double when there are more than 100 workers on site, with at least 10 workers tested per month.
In addition to the mandatory drug testing at work, a fitness for work policy is also required on projects where the Commonwealth has contributed at least $5 million and represents at least 50 per cent of the total value of the construction project, or where the Commonwealth has invested at least $10 million into it. Under the fitness for work policy, a worker who tests positive for any listed illicit substance will be deemed not to be fit for work, and can only return to work once they prove they are fit to do so.
With the prevalence of workplace drug use and abuse in the construction industry, these Building Code changes that apply to both new and existing Federal Government projects that meet the financial threshold gives everyone hope for a safer and healthier workplace across all industries. Some companies may have to develop an alcohol and drugs policy from scratch to be compliant, but the effort will be well worth it.
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