Workplace drug use increases

Local rate of people unable to pass pre-employment and workplace meth tests more than doubles over past year.

Local rate of people unable to pass pre-employment and workplace meth tests more than doubles over past year.

TESTING TIMES: The Drug Detection Agency mobile drug testing unit operator Sheree Skudder with TDDA Gisborne area manager Wendy Maxwell. Picture by Liam Clayton

THE rate of Gisborne people unable to pass pre-employment and workplace drug tests because of “meth” use has more than doubled over the past year.

And the results for more than half of people asked to take "reasonable cause" tests at work showed drug use of some sort.

A TDDA spokesman said data compiled by the Drug Detection Agency shows that last year Gisborne experienced a huge increase in results indicating the presence of methamphetamine.

“In relation to meth non-negative results, Gisborne has had a huge increase, with the 2016 figure jumping to 13.6 percent (as opposed to 5.3 percent in 2015).

"Non-negative indicates the presence of drugs from an initial screening. These screens are then sent to a laboratory for confirmation.

“In Gisborne, we have also seen a large increase in the amount of random drug testing being carried out,” the TDDA spokesman said.

“In 2015, the percentage of tests that were coded as random tests was 31.8 percent. In 2016, this jumped to 41.1 percent.

“This is a positive sign and shows that the employers are taking the risks of drugs in the workplace seriously.

“The number of non-negative results from reasonable cause testing has also increased from 40 percent in 2015 to 55 percent in 2016.”

Positive

But that should be seen in a positive light as it showed employers had identified drug issues in the workplace and acted accordingly.

Social Development Minister and East Coast MP Anne Tolley said the figures echoed what employers had been telling her.

“I know from my discussions with employers on the ground that there are a number of barriers to people getting work.

“For some people, recreational drug use can be a barrier and so this funding will help us to support them off drugs and into employment.”

Mrs Tolley last week announced the ministry would provide $220,000 towards a pilot to support clients to rehabilitate from drug use, with a focus on gaining employment.

“A pilot (programme) is already under way in Gisborne, and we’ll be looking at the outcomes of this once it finishes later this year.”

TDDA chief executive Kirk Hardy welcomed the increase in pre-employment testing and said it was a crucial way to ensure drugs did not even make it through the door at businesses around the country.

“Pre-employment drug testing is the first line of defence for any employer to ensure no potential employee is at risk of putting themselves or others in danger in the workplace through substance use.”

TDDA specialises in workplace drug and alcohol training and testing, as well as pre-employment testing.

It conducted more more than 140,000 workplace drug tests last year.

Levels up nationally

On a national level, the TDDA statistics showed that pre-employment drug tests went up 4.7 percent on the previous year.

“This is great to see as it means employers are being proactive and stopping the drug use before it even enters the workplace.”

The use of methamphetamine, or meth as it is commonly known, is up.

TDDA national statistics for the year ending December 2016 showed an increase of almost 13 percent on 2015 for the detection of methamphetamine.

In all drug tests conducted nationwide in 2016, meth accounts for approximately 13.5 percent of those where a drug is detected.

“Meth shows strongly in our workplace drug test results throughout New Zealand, making it the second most detected drug behind cannabis.

“It’s more readily available than ever before, unfortunately, and businesses need to be very aware that it crosses all levels of society and all types of employee.”

TDDA pointed out that tests were conducted through mobile testing units, rather than a laboratory.

THE rate of Gisborne people unable to pass pre-employment and workplace drug tests because of “meth” use has more than doubled over the past year.

And the results for more than half of people asked to take "reasonable cause" tests at work showed drug use of some sort.

A TDDA spokesman said data compiled by the Drug Detection Agency shows that last year Gisborne experienced a huge increase in results indicating the presence of methamphetamine.

“In relation to meth non-negative results, Gisborne has had a huge increase, with the 2016 figure jumping to 13.6 percent (as opposed to 5.3 percent in 2015).

"Non-negative indicates the presence of drugs from an initial screening. These screens are then sent to a laboratory for confirmation.

“In Gisborne, we have also seen a large increase in the amount of random drug testing being carried out,” the TDDA spokesman said.

“In 2015, the percentage of tests that were coded as random tests was 31.8 percent. In 2016, this jumped to 41.1 percent.

“This is a positive sign and shows that the employers are taking the risks of drugs in the workplace seriously.

“The number of non-negative results from reasonable cause testing has also increased from 40 percent in 2015 to 55 percent in 2016.”

Positive

But that should be seen in a positive light as it showed employers had identified drug issues in the workplace and acted accordingly.

Social Development Minister and East Coast MP Anne Tolley said the figures echoed what employers had been telling her.

“I know from my discussions with employers on the ground that there are a number of barriers to people getting work.

“For some people, recreational drug use can be a barrier and so this funding will help us to support them off drugs and into employment.”

Mrs Tolley last week announced the ministry would provide $220,000 towards a pilot to support clients to rehabilitate from drug use, with a focus on gaining employment.

“A pilot (programme) is already under way in Gisborne, and we’ll be looking at the outcomes of this once it finishes later this year.”

TDDA chief executive Kirk Hardy welcomed the increase in pre-employment testing and said it was a crucial way to ensure drugs did not even make it through the door at businesses around the country.

“Pre-employment drug testing is the first line of defence for any employer to ensure no potential employee is at risk of putting themselves or others in danger in the workplace through substance use.”

TDDA specialises in workplace drug and alcohol training and testing, as well as pre-employment testing.

It conducted more more than 140,000 workplace drug tests last year.

Levels up nationally

On a national level, the TDDA statistics showed that pre-employment drug tests went up 4.7 percent on the previous year.

“This is great to see as it means employers are being proactive and stopping the drug use before it even enters the workplace.”

The use of methamphetamine, or meth as it is commonly known, is up.

TDDA national statistics for the year ending December 2016 showed an increase of almost 13 percent on 2015 for the detection of methamphetamine.

In all drug tests conducted nationwide in 2016, meth accounts for approximately 13.5 percent of those where a drug is detected.

“Meth shows strongly in our workplace drug test results throughout New Zealand, making it the second most detected drug behind cannabis.

“It’s more readily available than ever before, unfortunately, and businesses need to be very aware that it crosses all levels of society and all types of employee.”

TDDA pointed out that tests were conducted through mobile testing units, rather than a laboratory.

  • Pre-employment and workplace drug tests show large increase in presence of meth
  • Meth the next most detected drug behind cannabis
  • Employers more active in identifying and acting on drug issues
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Mary-Ann de Kort - 2 years ago
Thank you for the article and the figures about drug testing. The figures are alarming, as are alcohol figures which aren't mentioned.
I agree that drugs in a workplace are a health and safety problem if there is physical impairment. Sometimes casual cannabis use doesn't result in impairment, as residual THC is present for some days. The 'P' figures are certainly alarming.
I'm confused at the figures used and am left wondering how many of the people and what percentage of the people who were actually drug tested, tested positive overall. How many would have sufficient drug present to cause physical or mental impairment?
I see that over half of the people tested in the workplace due to reasonable cause or random drug testing tested positive, but how many people out of any workplace were tested? I would imagine these might be just the minority as many are not tested as there is no reasonable cause. I was never drug tested as most of my colleagues at work were not tested. The definition of reasonable cause is also a bit random.
In addition, you have quoted that 13.6 percent of the non-negative results tested positive so I am also assuming that many tested non-positive as well. If so this figure would be reduced substantially.
The drug testing results are portrayed using figures for testing people where there is already a risk, but if the problem was as big as these confusing figures denote, I would imagine that $220,000 isn't going to go very far at all.
Residential care is very effective but there won't be enough in the kitty for this. I have heard that the Muriwai and Matawai hotels have been mentioned as places for people to rehabilitate and get themselves together. That is an excellent idea and maybe that will come later.

Ian Thornton - 2 years ago
Bill English was on the money then.

Michelle Shelley Brown - 2 years ago
Let's not ignore the fact of these drug users who are sitting smug in their cozy jobs because they have become experts in hiding the fact that they use drugs. This problem does not just exist amongst our unemployed and low income families.
There are many people working in these professional jobs who deceive their employees and their clients who they are supposedly meant to be helping to refrain from using drugs. And if it isn't them personally using drugs, you can bet your bottom dollar they will know of at least 'one' colleague who partakes of drugs.
Over the past 15 yeas while working amongst our whanau, unemployed, less fortunate, I've always been of the opinion that all organisations involved in the social work, health, education and justice sector should be randomly (without notice) drug tested... I also think any and all drug users who are found to have used drugs in any of these organisations be known 'freely' to others through a registration system, as like any criminal is when sentenced in court, so they are not able to fool and abuse any other organisation through employment - especially organisations that are supported by public funding.

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