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 other employees—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.
What substances must be tested for?
As a head contractor, you’re required to test all workers for the following:
Who has to be tested?
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).
How often should drug and alcohol testing be conducted?
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.
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.
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.