A Survey of Employees Attitudes Towards Drug Testing in the Workplace


In light of the recent publication of the safety, Health & Welfare at Work Bill 2004, which is set to target the construction industry in particular, the number of Irish employers implementing drug testing programmes in the workplace is set to increase. Little is known, however, about attitudes of Irish workers towards various aspects of drug testing. In order to address this matter, the author presents the findings of a cross-sectional survey of 148 construction trade apprentices in relation to their attitudes towards aspects of workplace drug testing. The extent to which their attitudes varied according to their levels of illegal drug use and alcohol use was also investigated. The results indicate that under some circumstances, testing is approved of. However, attitudes towards most aspects of drug testing are characterised by extreme variability. For example, nearly items were rejected by some respondents and accepted by others. It can be concluded that even if an employer designed a drug testing programme based on elements viewed more favourably, a substantial proportion of employees would still be likely to hold negative views towards some aspects of the programme. Furthermore, self-reported frequency of alcohol and drug use, particularly cannabis use, was associated to more negative reactions towards drug testing. Implications for implementing drug testing programmes in the workplace are discussed. The results of this study are intended to give employers an increased understanding of workers' attitudes towards drug testing programmes and to aid the development of effective substance-abuse prevention services.

This resource was contributed by The National Documentation Centre on Drug Use.

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