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Why Screen?


In these intensely competitive times, maintaining an experienced, responsible and reliable healthy workforce is a prime objective. Your people are one of your most valuable resources and assets. Their welfare – even whilst they are not at work – should be your concern.


With the recent strong emphasis on occupational safety and health issues, establishing and maintaining a safe working environment is now a mandatory industry responsibility.


Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 2015, employers have an obligation to take "all practicable steps" to ensure the safety of employees while at work. Drugs and Alcohol are listed in the amendments as being a potential hazard. The introduction of workplace drug testing, particularly in safety sensitive areas, is one way in which employers can meet their obligations. Workplace Drug Testing must, however, take account of ALL APPLICABLE LAWS including the Privacy Act 1993, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and the Human Rights Act 1993.


There are many reasons for a company implementing a comprehensive Health and Safety Policy which incorporates occupational screening, biological monitoring or workplace drug testing. Some industries, particularly those which are deemed more safety sensitive have more stringent processes, but in today’s fast paced working environments ALL employers should be investing in their staff and their ongoing well being. Not only can occupational screening help safe guard businesses against potential lawsuits, but can increase revenue through happier and healthier staff members.




Drug and Alcohol Abuse


Around 15 % of safety issues identified in the workplace are directly related to drug and alcohol abuse.


Drugs and alcohol abuse can severely impair human judgement, resulting in a higher incidence of injuries and in some extreme cases, death. In fact, research has shown that the accident rate for substance abusers is 4 times that of their co-workers and is responsible for up to 50% of all workplace injuries and up to 40% of deaths. Absenteeism is also a significant problem, as is the drop in productivity of between 20-25%.


Problem drinkers and other drug use create a range of problems in the workplace, but not only to themselves. There is the potential to affect employers, employees, and members of the public, customers and visitors.


Work colleagues may face, increased risk of injury, dispute, increased workload and levels of distress, the possibility of needing to work harder, redo work, and cover for the impaired colleague.


The economic impact of drug and alcohol abuse to a business results in lost productivity, lower profits, potentially reduced company competitive strength and reputation, and increased ACC, legal and insurance costs not to mention an impact on staff morale and subsequent negative impact on performance productivity and quality.


It is clear that alcohol and other drug use can affect productivity and profitability and that affected employees can be a danger to themselves and others.






One of the most effective ways in which you can combat the problem of substance abuse in the workplace is to introduce a formal drug testing programme.


It may sound a radical step, but one which may effectively allow you to meet all your responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992… especially if your industry is considered a ‘safety’ sensitive one.

Despite many businesses having drug and alcohol policies in their standard employment contract, they do not easily have the means of ensuring this policy is upheld.


In addition to performing the actual drug and alcohol testing , Canterbury Health Laboratories can provide a conduit to appropriate independent OSH consultancies who have a wealth of experience in helping to design and establish Employee Assistance Programmes and can offer support and advice on the training of counsellor and all those involved in ongoing drug and alcohol rehabilitation.


Very often it this impartial viewpoint can prove invaluable when assisting companies unaccustomed to addressing such sensitive issues.




Why Occupational Screen?


People are now aware of the effects working environments can have on an individual’s health and wellbeing. Some industries are more susceptible to workplace chemical exposure, and it is in the best interests of employers which fit into these categories to ensure staff are routinely screened to monitor and protect against this.

The main aim of occupational screening is to minimise risks to an employee’s health, and to prevent health problems from occurring very early on to minimise future problems.


There are seven common areas of Occupational Health, some are more prevalent to specific industries than others.


1. Clean air - Chemical exposures to the lungs, eyes and skin
  Lung diseases
  Eye problems
  Skin problems
2. Physical actions and sustained postures
  Acute low back pain
  Specific back injuries
  Overuse Disorders (Ergonomics)
3. Noise and vibration
  Noise-induced hearing loss
  Hand-arm and whole-body vibration syndromes.
4. Heat and cold
  Heat stroke and cold stress.
5. Infectious / contagious diseases
6. Skin disease skin lesions, redness
  Irritant or allergic contact dermatitis
  Skin cancer from sun exposure
7. Physical actions and sustained postures
  CV disease
  Raised BP


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