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Drug-Free Workplace Programmes: New Zealand Perspective

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International Volume: 174 Issue: 2-3 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 125-132
Susan Nolan
Date Published
January 2008
8 pages
This paper presents an overview of New Zealand's drug-free and alcohol-free workplace (DAFWP) policies and programs, highlighting drug-testing options, categories of abused drugs in the workplace, the influence of significant employment court judgments, and proposed changes to the Australian/New Zealand Standard's (AS/NZS's) "procedures for the collection, detection, and quantitation of drugs of abuse in urine."
The introduction of workplace drug testing (WDT) as part of a company's DAFWP began in the early 1990s in New Zealand. During the 1990s, the industries that pioneered such programs with WDT were in the forestry, fishing, mining, and aluminum manufacturing sectors. Since 2000, most of the other industry sectors with a high priority on occupational safety have such programs. The comprehensive DAFWP model accepted by New Zealand's employment courts and most labor unions has four critical components. These components are written company policies and procedures regarding employee drug and alcohol use, employee education and training on drug and alcohol abuse, employee drug testing by an accredited lab, and an Employee Assistance Program that provides drug treatment and case management. The intended outcome of the model is a change in employee drug-abuse behavior leading to a safer workplace. The drug classes that are available in New Zealand and are typically the focus of employee drug testing are cannabis; amphetamine-type stimulants; benzylpiperazine; opiates; and LSD, cocaine, and benzodiazepines. The AS/NZS is currently being revised in the areas of definitions; specimen collection, storage, handling, and dispatch; laboratory screening procedures; laboratory confirmation procedures; and on-site screening procedures. This paper also discusses the mix of drug-testing options being used by New Zealand companies (pre-employment, random, after accidents or incidents, etc.) and current research on oral fluid drug testing. 3 tables, 5 figures, and 8 references