As part of our zero tolerance to drugs and alcohol on building sites campaign, the ABCC commenced fitness for work audits of code covered entities in March 2019. The campaign aimed to raise industry awareness of fitness for work requirements in the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Cth) (the Building Code) and seek self-rectification where appropriate. 

To help improve safety on building sites, code covered entities such as head contractors and subcontractors, must have an approach to managing drug and alcohol issues in the workplace. Additionally, head contractors on Commonwealth funded building projects that are required to have an ABCC approved Workplace Relations Management Plan (WRMP) must include a fitness for work policy in their WRMP. All fitness for work policies are required to provide for drug and alcohol testing. 

As part of the fitness for work audits, large and small-sized head contractors across seven states and territories were audited to assess whether they were meeting the Building Code’s drug and alcohol testing requirements. 

Findings

During the audits, the ABCC identified potential issues in relation to head contractors failing to comply with their fitness for work policy. 

Issues include: 

  • Not testing the required minimum number of workers in respect of each of the drugs listed in Schedule 4, aside from alcohol.
  • Substances listed in Schedule 4 include:
    • Alcohol;
    • Opiates;
    • THC;
    • Cocaine;
    • Benzodiazepines;
    • Amphetamine; and
    • Methamphetamine.
  • Not randomly testing the minimum number of workers separately from, and in addition to any other types of drug or alcohol testing (high-risk, for-cause or pre-employment).

Other requirements

Pleasingly, all head contractors audited met the other requirements outlined in Schedule 4 of the Building Code: 

  • Use of objective medical testing methods.
  • Employees of the head contractor as well as subcontractors complied with the relevant fitness for work policy.
  • Workers who attended for work affected by drugs or alcohol were counselled or assisted.
  • People who tested positive for drugs or alcohol were prevented from performing work until they proved they were fit to return to work (that is, provided a negative test result).

 Our findings and observations are now available on our fitness for work campaign page.