You might expect to see workplace drug testing being carried out in industries such as mining, transportation and construction, but perhaps not in shearing sheds and beaches!
On the beaches
Bondi Beach may be well-known for many things, and you probably wouldn’t be surprised if drug use was one of them, but you might be surprised to hear that this time it’s the lifeguards under the microscope.
Lifeguards at several Sydney beaches, including Bondi Beach, are being encouraged to undergo workplace drug testing and alcohol testing after a report found an incidence of lifeguards turning up to work under the influence.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the internal report found lifeguards, “were at extreme risk of being effected by drugs and alcohol while on duty”. The article cited a 2015 draft document that identified, “Council has been aware of intoxicated and drug-affected lifeguards for several years currently in workplace performing duties.”
Initiatives to combat the issue include a specific lifeguard drug and alcohol procedure, access to on-site workplace drug and alcohol testing, and drug and alcohol education.
In shearing sheds
Workplace drug testing in shearing sheds? On paper it certainly makes sense as shearers and others in a shearing shed undertake a safety critical role. However, the call for more to be done to prevent shearers from working under the influence of drugs has come due to concern for the sheep.
According to The Standard, animal rights group PETA is concerned about the welfare of sheep under the control of drug-induced workers.
“Animals can be injured or even killed when workers shear them under the influence of drugs,” says PETA associate director Ashley Fruno in the article.
Victorian Farmers Federation vice president Brett Hosking has slammed PETA and accused them of pushing their agenda. He says that while it’s been shown that drug use is an issue in regional areas, farmers have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drug use and mistreatment of animals.
The article also quotes National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson and Balmoral Liberal Party delegate Robert Lawrence.
Ms Simson says that drug use in any workplace can negatively impact absenteeism, productivity, quality of work and workplace safety, but just dobbing in your mate, which is advocated by PETA, won’t fix the issue. “It’s a complex issue that requires a coordinated effort from everyone in the workplace – including employers, employees and contractors,” she said.
Mr Lawrence has called for mandatory workplace drug testing of all shearers.