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How drugs and alcohol can cause expensive workplace mistakes

Shipping and freight is an industry in which a great deal depends on accuracy. The error rate, thought to be around 2%, is hard to pin down because there are so many factors involved. For many companies, it’s more than twice that amount. Some of the reasons for that are hard to control. For example, it is more challenging to organise small, disparate items than large, identical ones. But, there are some areas where management policy can make a difference. One such concern is drugs and alcohol.

How performance is affected

To avoid errors in paperwork, labelling, and sealing, it is vital to ensure that staff are well trained in the tasks they have to carry out. It is also essential that they give their full attention to what they are doing. That is not possible if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Many managers assume that it is possible to spot such employees. But research into road safety shows concentration can be affected at levels that are not immediately obvious. If drinking heavily during the previous night, a worker’s performance can still be affected the next day. Drugs, such as cannabis, can remain in the body for a lot longer, and continue to have an effect.

Workplace drug and alcohol testing

These days, more employers are using drug and alcohol testing in the workplace to keep such problems under control. The first thing such a policy does is to let workers know what is expected of them. They may not be aware of how much their leisure time choices can affect their work. Introducing a testing policy creates an ideal opportunity to talk about this.

There are many different ways to carry out testing, enabling employers to choose those best suited to their ways of working. In a warehouse, for example, taking employees aside to arrange a urine spot check is usually simple enough to do. On a busy dock, when it is crucial not to take workers away from their duties for too long, an oral drug and alcohol test can be more practical.

Prevent errors, prevent injuries

Improving the accuracy of their work by making sure all employees are sober reduces the risk of mistakes, which can be expensive to correct. It is cheaper to invest in testing than to clear up manifested-but-not-shipped errors. These can result in paying double for the movement of goods. Also, seal number discrepancies that result in problems with goods going through customs.

As well as saving money, drug testing administration staff can protect others from injury. During transportation, hazardous goods must have the correct labelling to allow for the use of appropriate safety measures. If a shipment contains heavier than usual crates, then accurate labelling is vital. It will ensure that proper lifting techniques are adopted and that vehicles are not overloaded.

When thinking about drug testing their workforce, many freight operators don’t see admin staff as a priority but, for the reasons above, they should.

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