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The Human Cost of Drug Use in Mining

Drug Use in Mining

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The cost of drug use in the workplace is a significant concern for employers, employees, and society as a whole. The financial, legal, and personal costs of substance abuse are staggering, with repercussions that extend far beyond the individual to families, businesses, and the broader community. 

The cost of drug use in the workplace is a significant concern for employers, employees, and society as a whole. The financial, legal, and personal costs of substance abuse are staggering, with repercussions that extend far beyond the individual to families, businesses, and the broader community. Within safety-critical sectors such as the mining industry, drug use can increase workers’ risk of severe injury, death, and mental health issues. The seriousness of this issue in a mining context simply cannot be ignored. Risk is amplified in remote and extreme work environments in which the use of complex machinery presents an already heightened risk.

Factors that could contribute to drug use include the isolation of remote working conditions, irregular hours, and the demands of Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) arrangements. Research into FIFO work arrangements conducted by the Centre for Transformative Work Design for the WA Mental Health Commission in 2018 showed an elevated risk of mental health issues amongst workers operating under FIFO arrangements. The research systematically linked numerous factors (including culture and rostering) to the use of alcohol and other drugs, and the mental health and well-being of FIFO workers. 

Workers who struggle with substance abuse often put their co-workers at risk, creating tension and mistrust among employees and leading to a toxic work environment, poor employee satisfaction, and decreased productivity. In addition to mental health issues, they may experience financial difficulties and damaged relationships, the consequences of which can have a long-lasting impact on the individual and their family. 

Prioritising the well-being of the individual and mitigating drug use in the workplace is essential to maintaining a healthy and safe mining industry.

Intelligent Bio Solutions is shifting how workplaces conduct drug screening with its Intelligent Drug Screening System, an alternative drug screening solution that focuses on the privacy and dignity of the individual. The system utilises fingerprint sweat to screen for specific drugs of abuse, including cannabis, cocaine, opiates, and methamphetamine, in a process that provides a quick, easy, and non-invasive alternative to traditional and more intrusive point-of-care drug testing methods, such as urine and saliva. The system’s short 16-hour detection window is pertinent to whether an employee is ‘fit for duty’ at the time of testing, compared to other methods with longer detection periods. Due to its non-biohazardous nature, the fingerprint sweat screening process eliminates the need for specialist handling, collection areas or clinical waste disposal, and the system’s portability enables tests to be conducted almost anywhere and at any time, enabling companies to conduct drug testing much more efficiently than traditional methods. 

The company’s thriving market expansion in Australia highlights the growing demand for alternative screening solutions across multiple sectors, particularly those in which maintaining workplace safety is critical.

Australian workplaces are demonstrating a growing commitment to workplace safety and employee well-being. The mindset has shifted from for cause testing to a more preventative approach by conducting regular workplace drug screening,” says Peter Passaris, Vice President of Sales and Operations at Intelligent Bio Solutions. “There has been significant enthusiasm around our solution as it targets impairment, thus evaluating fitness for duty on the day of testing, and it is largely appreciated as a preferred choice of testing method by male and female participants in highly regulated work environments due to its non-invasive and dignified nature.” 

Implementing drug screening programs and systems that demonstrate genuine care for an individual’s dignity and privacy safeguards physical safety and nurtures mental health and well-being. Discouraging substance abuse within workplaces via a proactive screening approach can help alleviate the toll that substance misuse can take on an individual’s mental and emotional state and that of their co-workers. 

Safe workplaces promote safer communities and help to ensure employees return home safely. 

Referenced Sources: Impact of FIFO work arrangements on the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers 

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