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Mining industry ahead in the fight against ice

The war on drugs has a new focus, highlighted by recent media coverage on the menace of methamphetamines – ‘crystal meth’ or ‘ice’ as it is more commonly known. This, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plans for a federal taskforce to tackle Australia’s drug problem has turned attention back to workplace policies and procedures in managing and enforcing zero tolerance.
The use of ice, synthetic drugs and other illicit or non-illicit drugs has the potential to impact on safe work practices, as well as social and cultural issues.
The mining industry has an instilled safety focus, yet workers may continue to use and be affected by these substances. Users may experience altered memory, lack of concentration or impaired coordination which can delay reaction times and
increase the risk of accident and injury – not just to themselves, but to their co-workers.
Mark O’Neill, General Manager CS Health says there are several components to maintaining vigilance in the fight against drugs in the workplace. These include maintaining an effective drug and alcohol policy, implementation of testing programs, worker education, awareness of current laws, legislation and the ever changing substance market.
“With any substance abuse, safety in the workplace remains the number one priority to ensure all workers are not impaired in the performance of their duties. The key in meeting the challenge of illegal substance use is workplace education on the dangers of all drugs and fostering the development of a zero tolerance approach to anything that places workers health and safety at risk,” said Mr. O’Neill.
“Within the NSW mining culture, the use of illicit drugs is quite low. CS Health conducted almost 16,000 drug and alcohol tests in the Hunter Valley over the last 12 months, with only 0.21% of all tests returning a positive result for methamphetamines.
There has been no increase over the past three years. This result doesn’t mean that we can rest easy. We need to remain vigilant; particularly given this is a growing issue in our community.”
“Most mining employers have had strict drug and alcohol policies and procedures in place since the 90’s, which prohibit the use of illegal substances. These programs are working to successfully discourage drug use within our industry.”
“The issue of substance abuse is one that we need to approach as a collective group so as to gain some level of control. Other industries could benefit from implementing programs similar to those maintained within the mining sector to help secure workplace safety and community health.” Mr O’Neill concluded.
CS Health has been conducting drug and alcohol screening and education since 1996 and offers urine and oral fluid screening methods. They also provide assistance to updating company drug and alcohol policies on request. Advice regarding synthetic drug screening is also available.
For more information about drug and alcohol screening and education services, please contact CS Health.