Council workers to be tested for booze and drugs

SUNSHINE Coast Council will make its workers undergo random drug and alcohol tests or face disciplinary action and possible dismissal.

The council will introduce the compulsory oral swabs and breath-testing from next month in a bid to ensure safe working environments, particularly in higher-risk areas involving machinery.

Machinery and plant operators must have a zero blood-alcohol level when they start work early in the morning.

The code of conduct also prevents workers from using, possessing or being impaired by the effects of illegal drugs while on duty.

But it seems the move does not have the blessing of unions, with secretary of The Services Union Kath Nelson saying her union had told council it would not support the policy because of a lack of consultation.

A council spokesman said testing of the organisation's 2433 workers would be "non-invasive" and involve an oral swab to test for drugs or a breath test machine to test for alcohol.

All test results would be confidential and if an employee or contractor tested positive, the initial focus would be on ensuring their safety and the safety of colleagues.

Steps could include sending the employee home, arranging counselling or medical help.

Staff members would be required to sign a consent form before testing was conducted.

Failure to sign or agreeing to be tested if randomly selected could lead to "some disciplinary action".

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