Federal Court finds random drug and alcohol testing contributes to workplace safety
Mr Neist said that recent successful prosecutions by ITSR of workers under NSW’s Rail Safety (Drug & Alcohol Testing) Regulation 2008 highlighted the need for continued random drug and alcohol testing at all worksites.
“It doesn’t matter whether you are working in the rail corridor, on a motorway or at a wharf, workers should not be putting themselves or others at risk by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Mr Neist said.
Justices Buchanan and Katzmann of the Federal Court of Australia found that the 1993 Victorian Building Industry and Other Drugs Policy strictly forbade people who were under the influence of drugs and alcohol from working on building sites, although it did not address testing.
In dismissing the application made by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on 14 June the Justices said, "Every employer also owes a duty of care to its employees to take reasonable care for their safety."
The CFMEU originally made an application in 2011 before a FWA Commissioner who found that the policy did not prescribe drug and alcohol testing.
This decision was then successfully appealed by project principal contractor Thiess Pty Ltd and subcontractor Wagstaff Piling Pty Ltd, before the full bench of FWA.
The full decision of the Federal Court of Australia is available on AustLII’s website.
NSW law requires rail transport operators to randomly test at least 25% of their rail safety workers (employees and contractors) every year.
Rail transport operators must notify ITSR of positive test results as well as any instance where a rail safety worker refused to undergo testing. This information is publicly reported annually in ITSR’s Rail Industry Safety Report.
ITSR also undertakes random drug and alcohol testing of rail safety workers from a range of small and large operators.
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