Soil Conservation Service: Proposed amendments to Drug & Alcohol Policy - Public Service Association

Soil Conservation Service: Proposed amendments to Drug & Alcohol Policy

The PSA has been provided with correspondence from the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) executive regarding proposed changes to the current Fitness for Work – Drug & Alcohol Policy and Procedures. SCS has an obligation to provide its staff and our members with a safe workplace, noting the safety risks associated to the work completed by staff.

As part of any change to conditions and policy, SCS is obligated to consult with the PSA. While SCS has provided considerable material on the proposal, the apparent nature of the information is focussed upon the misuse of drugs and alcohol and its ability to affect staff attending work.

What are the proposed changes to the current drug and alcohol arrangements?

  • BCA for all staff to be 0.00 per cent, whether you attend an office or administer field duties.
  • AS/NZS 4760:2019 qualification of drugs in oral fluid that contains levels for amphetamines, cocaine, oxycodone, cannabinoids and opiates.
  • Compulsory drug and alcohol testing, including:
    • self-testing of alcohol and at the expense of staff, other drugs
    • random testing – the frequency dependent on the size of the worksite
    • after-incident testing (also called casual testing) which is pretty self-explanatory
    • for-cause testing if a manager or staff member is of the opinion that individual’s fitness for work may be compromised by either drugs or alcohol
    • targeted testing – if a worker has produced a confirmed positive test, it is mandatory that the worker be included in the test group for the following three random tests that are conducted.
  • The concept of authorising and training Testing Officers for each SCS worksite that can be trained on the administration of both drug and alcohol testing.
  • The development of self-assessment tools and checklists prior to starting work on SCS worksites.
  • The processes of and submission of a testing sample.
  • The expectations of SCS staff who are invited to internal and external work functions inside and outside of working hours where alcohol is served.
  • The consequences for breaches that identifies a three-step process for positive tests (above those prescribed levels) for either drugs or alcohol.

Member feedback sought

The PSA would like to know your thoughts before providing our correspondence to SCS. Taking a public sector-wide view on drug and alcohol policies and procedures raises concerns that SCS is attempting to cast a net over all employees within SCS whether they attend to higher risk field duties or not. This is is inappropriate and not cognisant of the risk and the duties expected to be performed.

We note there are portions of the policy that enable support mechanisms for those employees who advise of addictions to drugs or alcohol. There is also a genuine understanding that some worksites, such as those on the rail corridor, have zero blood alcohol and testing regimes in place and which SCS staff are required to uphold.

The PSA would like to hear from its members on the Drug & Alcohol Policy. To review the proposed policy and procedures, you can click HERE.

You can provide your feedback by emailing PSA Industrial Officer Shane Howes .

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