Victorian construction companies will be required to implement
comprehensive drug and alcohol testing procedures in order to be
eligible to tender for work from the Victorian Government,
according to a statement released last week.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has announced that the
Victorian Government will introduce amendments to the
Implementation Guidelines to the Victorian Code of Practice for the
Building Industry (Guidelines) in order to tackle dangerous work
practices on Victorian construction sites.
In the statement, Premier Napthine said "Reports of illicit
drug use and distribution on Victorian construction sites are
widespread. The presence of intoxicated and drug affected workers
on building sites presents a real and serious risk to the safety of
hard working Victorians."
As a result, any employers seeking to tender for Victorian
Government work from mid 2014 will be required to have a
comprehensive drug and alcohol testing procedure in place. While
the specific requirements to be included in the Guidelines have not
yet been released, employers in the construction sector should
begin preparing for these changes now.
Points to Consider in Implementing a Drug and Alcohol
Employers and those who manage and control workplaces (including
companies and individuals that engage contractors) are required to
take all reasonably practicable steps to eliminate or minimise
risks to health and safety arising from the conduct of their
business. In order to meet these work health and safety
obligations, many employers in high risk industries, such as the
construction industry, already have comprehensive drug and alcohol
policies in place, including testing regimes.
Regardless of whether drug and alcohol testing is already in
place, employers should consider reviewing existing policies now in
anticipation of the new requirements to be introduced in mid
The key elements of an effective drug and alcohol policy and
testing regime include:
a clear and comprehensive policy that specifically sets out its
intended scope and application, including who it applies to
(employees, contractors, other workplace participants), the types
of drugs it applies to and the consequences of breaching the
a testing regime that includes:
alcohol and drug testing of all new employees prior to
random drug and alcohol testing
'for cause' testing (ie testing after incidents or
information, instruction and training for all workers on the
requirements of the policy, in particular the consequences of
breaching the policy.
Employers must also ensure that the policy and testing regime
complies with any applicable industrial instruments in place at the
workplace, including enterprise agreements. For example, enterprise
agreements often contain specific requirements regarding drug and
alcohol testing and any new or amended policies may not comply with
those requirements. Failure to comply with the terms of an
enterprise agreement may lead to prosecution and the imposition of
penalties (up to AUD51,000 per breach).
Employers must also ensure any new or amended policy complies
Implementing Drug and Alcohol Policies and Testing
When implementing any new or amended policy, employers
consult with employees and contractors regarding the proposed
policy (in accordance with any applicable award and/or enterprise
ensure the policy is distributed to all employees and
contractors, and appropriate training is provided (including new
worker induction and regular refresher training for existing
apply the policy consistently across the business.
We will provide further updates when the Victorian Government
announces the specific requirements to be included in the
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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