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Drug testing in the workplace might seem like an invasion of privacy to many. However, in reality, it is a vital aspect of workplace safety, particularly in those industries where there are risks to workers and the public.

So, if drug testing is to be carried out, then employers should follow some basic principles to ensure the rights of the employee are not violated.

Informed Consent – Before taking the job, employees should be made aware of drug testing and how it forms part of the role. This means that they consent to it when they take the job.

Confidentiality is Key – Despite employees knowing that drug testing is a part of the work environment, their privacy should be respected. Therefore, it is important that the results, consequences and when the test takes place remain confidential.

Managing a Positive Test – There are instances where an employee might test positive for drugs. If this is the case then repeat tests should be conducted to ensure that the initial test was true and accurate. Along with this, they should also be given the opportunity to explain the situation and provide reasons.

Assistance Should be Offered – Drug use and addiction is a very serious matter and so if an individual tests positive then they should be offered assistance with counselling or rehabilitation. While they may be in violation of company rules, employers should be seen to help individuals.

Testing Should be Justified – It has already been mentioned that employees should be made aware of drug testing in the workplace. However, the reason should be justified and shown how it is relevant to the specific situation. If it relates to safety then employers have every right to test but if it has no relevance then that could cause problems.

Health and safety is a big priority in the rail industry and so, drug testing should be used to enhance the safety of all. Drug testing should not be used to single out individuals or to cut off their employment opportunities. Employees need to be treated with respect and dignity when it comes to drug testing as this can help to avoid discrimination. It is important that employers make employees aware of drug testing in the workplace as well as the reasons. If they do this, then everyone will be working on the same level.