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Harnessing workplace alcohol and drug testing to tackle issues in the construction industry

Last year, Build UK made a template Drugs and Alcohol Policy available to its members. With this publication, the body, which represents roughly 40% of the UK’s construction industry, reached out to its members to address the alcohol and drug misuse problems in this market.


Recently, the group made an updated version of this available across the industry. The move followed on the heels of incidents associated with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which included April 2023 reports of prevalent cocaine use.


In another April 2023 report, the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) described the levels of alcohol and drug misuse on construction sites as a “ticking timebomb”. This organisation also highlighted that the industry lacks guidance on these matters.


Objectives of the Build UK Drugs and Alcohol Policy


Given these serious incidents, allegations and concerns, the template policy on the management of alcohol and drug use attempts to standardise industry approaches to the issue. The objectives include:


  • Raising awareness to tackle associated risks and health hazards.
  • Implementing measures to control the use of alcohol and drugs in the construction industry.
  • Establishing a climate where problem drug and alcohol users can come forward and seek help.
  • Creating a platform to deal with transgressions and putting systems in place to monitor the misuse of drugs and alcohol.


The management of drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace


The HSE states that employers have a legal duty, in terms of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA), to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of employees. Build UK devised its policy to help the construction industry fulfil this duty.


Drug and alcohol workplace testing is key to the success of implementing a standardised policy. Employers must consider an array of factors when planning and executing a testing programme for permanent and contracted construction workers.


Engaging experts such as Matrix Diagnostics paves the way for a streamlined drug and alcohol testing programme that is both legal and helps to address the problem. These drug and alcohol testing specialists offer professional and objective advice on implementing workplace testing.


This includes the review and amendment of any existing policies to bring them in line with the suggested UK Build template and the European Workplace Drug Test Society guidelines. Matrix Diagnostics also ensures that your drug and alcohol testing programme complies with legal stipulations, such as the Data Protection Act 2018.


Employers must conduct data protection assessments, and these must address things such as the necessity for sample collections and justifications for why they should be kept. For example, after an incident, records must be available for ensuing legal action and tribunals.


Full training on the different screening products, especially when carrying out an on-site testing programme, is crucial. It is therefore important to partner with professionals that can back you with an in-house laboratory, such as Matrix Diagnostics’ UKAS-accredited facility.


Contact our drug and alcohol testing specialists today and make your construction sites and other premises safe and legally compliant.

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