How do I become an accredited workplace drug and alcohol tester?
A workplace drug and alcohol tester is a person that conducts either breath alcohol testing and oral and urine fluid testing in workplaces to help understand a person’s fitness for duty. Many industries now undertake drug and alcohol testing in the workplace to understand if a person is potentially affected by illicit substances or prescription medications that have been provided to them. It is considered an important part of the safety management processes across many industries.
Commonly the tests undertaken are a breath alcohol test and an oral and/or urine fluid test for drugs such as THC or cannabis, amphetamine style drugs, cocaine, opiates and even prescription medications like benzodiazepines.
The reason for workplace drug and alcohol testing in modern workplaces is essentially to improve safety for all people at a work site. Fitness for work testing, including drug and alcohol testing, is done to ensure the risk of incident and accident is decreased as much as possible for all people at the workplace. We’re trying to understand if a person is negatively affected by a substance in the performance of their duties.
The main types of workplace drug and alcohol testing include –
- pre-employment screening to understand if someone is suitable for position,
- post incident testing to understand if drugs and alcohol contributed to an incident,
- reasonable suspicion testing where someone may be considered to be under the effect of drugs or alcohol in the workplace, and,
- random testing which involves all or part of a workforce to be tested at a particular point in time. This group is randomly selected.
Workplace drug and alcohol testing is undertaken in a suitable work area which allows for privacy and confidentiality in the testing process is as well as information transfer. It can be done by people within the workplace qualified to undertake the testing or in some instances organisations engage a third party to come to the workplace to undertake drug and alcohol testing.
There are number of activities or duties a workplace drug and alcohol tester must undertake. These include –
- preparing an area and equipment for the testing,
- explaining the processes of testing to donors and other workplace staff,
- perform the tests as required under recognised standards or manufacturers recommendations,
- ensure testing is done in compliance with Australian standards and other relevant applicable industry standards, including the chain of custody processes,
- prepare non negative samples for transportation to laboratory’s for confirmatory testing, and,
- prepare results of testing activities and communicating these to workplace supervisors and management.
To become and credited drug and alcohol tester in the workplace formal training needs to be undertaken. Australian standards require formal qualifications for the collection of oral and urine fluid. A common qualification in the workplace drug and alcohol testing field is HLTPAT005 Collect specimens for drugs of abuse testing. This qualification has been designed to meet the needs of workplaces who are undertaking testing. Typically it is a full day course or the equivalent thereof and requires a practical component to be deemed competent. The program can include face to face training or online theory followed by workplace practical activities completed at your own workplace or an agreed alternative.