NACD Recommendations to Government in relation to workplace drug testing and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005)

Many issues still need to be teased out and clarified in relation to the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, in particular: the definition of ‘safety-critical’ work. The issues of infringement of rights, privacy, ethics, morality, welfare, fairness and social exclusion need to be addressed. Of paramount importance is the safety issue and it is within this context that the act was introduced. Mandatory drug testing is not a panacea to workplace accidents; employers have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of workers given that many accidents have been caused by extraneous factors such as: dangerous working conditions, noise and dirt, conflict among the workforce, employee fatigue exacerbated by sleeping problems and shift work, excessive workload and stress. Alcohol is the most used psychoactive substance in Ireland and likely to cause absenteeism at work, therefore, having a drugs-and-alcohol policy may raise social consciousness and awareness of the dangers inherent in the misuse of substances. A drugs and alcohol policy in the workplace could also present opportunities for those who are substance dependent to seek help and rehabilitation.

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