Benefits of random drug testing in the meat industry
The meat processing industry encompasses a range of high-risk activities, meaning it is important for staff safety that drug and alcohol testing be carried out.
A western Melbourne abattoir, handling every aspect in the production chain including slaughter to transport, has opted to implement Pathtech breathalysers and DrugWipe devices for saliva-based drug testing.
With a focus on continual improvement, the company reviews procedures and processes regularly to ensure the highest possible production and safety standards are met.
It was recently decided to implement a formalised workplace drug and alcohol testing regime and the OH&S and risk manager was charged with determining the best path for the development and execution of both policy and program.
Outsourcing the process to a specialist service provider was initially considered, but once it was discovered that it was possible to undergo training and attain the necessary accreditation to conduct the process in-house, it became the obvious choice.
“Bringing the process in-house was logical,” said the company’s representative.
“We operate as a lean business, so we aim to maximise efﬁciencies where and when possible. Besides the obvious cost beneﬁts, undertaking our own testing gives us much more control over the process. It’s also more responsive — in the event of a safety incident or if there is suspicion that an employee may under the inﬂuence, we can act immediately. The fact that testing is carried out by a trusted and familiar face also makes it less daunting.”
Pathtech provided guidance and helped the company develop a fully ﬂedged drug testing policy, which incorporates everything from the testing procedures through to next steps in the event of a positive result. Testing will be conducted on a random basis across the entire staff, with the aim to test at least once a month.
“It’s our intention to make it truly random — so it may occur on two consecutive days or weeks apart. We’ll also obviously test in the event of a safety incident, a near miss or suspicion of use,” said the company representative.
The company opted for saliva testing as the preferred method after considering other options. Using the saliva devices is quick and simple and there are no additional requirements, such as taking temperature readings or matching results to pH cards.
“The whole process was extremely simple. The upshot is a program that not only ensures the safety of our workers and helps minimise avoidable workplace accidents, but also guarantees that there will be no issues from a legal defensibility point of view. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” the representative said.
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