Code covered entities must ensure there is an approach to managing drugs and alcohol issues in the workplace to help ensure that no person attending the site to perform work does so under the influence of the drugs or alcohol listed in Schedule 4 to the Code.

This applies to all code covered entities, regardless of whether you’re a head contractor or subcontractor and regardless of whether the project is privately or publicly funded.

Fitness for work policies

If you’re a head contractor on a Commonwealth funded building project that is required to have a WRMP, your WRMP must include a fitness for work policy.

Your fitness for work policy must provide for drug and alcohol testing. This means it addresses how everyone on site—including employees of the head contractor, subcontractors and their employees and others—is required (by contract or other enforceable means) to participate in drug and alcohol testing.

Your fitness for work policy needs to outline the use of an objective medical testing method/s to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in a person, including which testing method/s will be used and what will happen if a person’s test is positive.

There is no particular testing method that you’re required to use. For instance, both urine testing and saliva testing are permitted. However, there are some minimum requirements, which we’ve outlined for you below.

The specific requirements for fitness for work policies are covered in Schedule 4 of the Code.

Review the complete Code.

What substances must be tested for?

As a head contractor, you’re required to test all workers for the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Opiates
  • THC
  • Cocaine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines

Your fitness for work policy must list these substances exactly as they appear above – e.g. “Methyl-amphetamine” or “cannabis” is not sufficient.

Additional substances may also form part of the testing procedure, but are not required.

Who has to be tested and how often?

Frequent and periodic drug and alcohol testing of both construction workers and site office workers should be conducted as follows:

Number of workers on site

Number of workers to be tested per month

Less than 30

At least ten percent of the workforce

30 – 100

A minimum of five

More than 100

At least ten

A head contractor’s fitness for work policy must outline their procedure for selecting personnel for testing, including for staged selection across a worksite (testing everyone at various stages), as well as for random testing (if the entire workforce is not to be tested in any single testing round).

Head contractors are required to randomly test the workers on their site at least once per month.

Head contractors must also outline their procedures for targeted testing of higher risk activities, voluntary testing and for-cause testing.

For more information, refer to the ABCC's Fitness for work policy guidance material.

What is the level of tolerance for drugs and alcohol?

There is zero tolerance for detectable levels in a person of any of the substances listed above.

What happens if a person tests positive for any of the relevant substances?

When a person returns a positive result for any of the substances listed above they are deemed unfit for work.

This means they can’t continue working until they prove that they are fit to return to work.

Head contractors are required to outline in their fitness for work policy how a person who returns a positive result will be prevented from performing work until they can prove they are fit to return to work, and other processes that will apply in the event of a positive result or ‘deemed positive result’ (a failure to submit to a test is deemed a positive result).

Head contractors must also outline in their fitness for work policy how workers who attend work with drugs or alcohol in their system will be counselled and assisted.

For more information, refer to the ABCC's Fitness for work policy guidance material.

Can a head contractor charge subcontractors for the cost of testing, or delegate testing to subcontractors?

No, the Code provides that a head contractor is not permitted to pass on to a subcontractor the implementation or cost of any drug or alcohol testing.

However, who must pay for return-to-work testing (after a positive test) is not covered by the Code and needs to be worked out by the head contractor and the worker.

Frequently asked questions

What are the requirements for a fitness for work policy?

  • The fitness for work policy forms part of the WRMP and must address each of the Items set out in Schedule 4

Do I need to re-submit the entire WRMP if I only need to change the fitness for work policy?

  • Even if a previous assessment only required amendments to the fitness for work policy, the entire WRMP must be re-submitted.
  • The ABCC will not approve a WRMP unless it is submitted in its entirety.

Can I amend my fitness for work policy?

  • Any amendments to the fitness for work policy in an approved Workplace Relations Management Plan must be approved by the ABCC.
  • The ABCC will monitor compliance with the fitness for work policy that forms part of the ABCC approved Workplace Relations Management Plan.

For further information, please contact the ABCC.

Who must comply with the fitness for work policy?

  • All persons on site, including employees of the head contractor, subcontractors and their employees and others, must be required to comply with the fitness for work policy.

What if a client or subcontractor has their own fitness for work policy?

  • The fitness for work policy must not provide for a client or subcontractor policy to apply instead of or override (in whole or in part) the tenderer’s policy. If the client has specific fitness for work requirements, these can be incorporated into the tenderer’s policy, but they must also meet the requirements of the Code.

How do I test?

  • The fitness for work policy must outline the particular detection methods being used – for example, breath, urine, saliva or blood testing.

 

For more information, refer to the ABCC's Fitness for work policy guidance material.