SafeTree: New industry drugs code to be developed

Wednesday 18 May 2022

(SafeTree to develop new drugs code – Safetree has been asked to update the industry’s alcohol and drugs guideline with a view to ensuring it is effective and reflects current best practice thinking. The existing NZFOA guideline focuses heavily on testing – which at the time it was written in 2008 was how people thought they could best keep alcohol and other drugs out of the forest.

Fourteen years later more is known about the best ways to manage this issue, and we want to include this knowledge into the new guideline.

Initial research done for Safetree suggests there is no clear evidence that testing, on its own, provides a strong deterrent against drug use. There are signs of people ‘gaming’ the testing system and changing their behaviour to avoid detection, including swapping to ‘harder’ drugs like methamphetamines or synthetic drugs that are less detectable through testing.

Some responses to failed tests have the potential to damage trust and make it harder for workplaces to help workers who want to change their behaviour. Interestingly, the research also highlights that alcohol and other drugs are not just a problem workers bring into the workplace. Workplaces themselves can have a significant impact on alcohol and drug use.

Workplace stress – including long and irregular hours, job insecurity, low pay and boredom - can cause distress that is known to affect consumption of alcohol and other drugs.

The availability of drugs and alcohol within the workplace, and attitudes in the workplace towards using them, also mean workplaces can have a significant impact on levels of usage by workers.

With that in mind, we’re developing principles to help guide us in the revision of the guideline. These principles will aim to help workplaces:
• Effectively manage the risks created by impairment from alcohol and other drugs in the workplace.
• Improve worker health and wellbeing, including educating workers on the risks, and options to get help.
• Keep alcohol and other drugs out of the forests and keep people working safely in them.

The SafeTree team will consult with the sector on the development of the guideline. But in the meantime, if you have ideas and experiences you'd like to share please get in touch with us at info@safetree.nz . We’d also like to hear stories of new things people are trying to manage these risks and encourage healthy lifestyles among workers.

Source: Fiona Ewing, SafeTree


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