General News Rural — 22 March 2017
Western Downs Regional Council is planning to spend thousands of dollars drug-testing employees.  (Photo credit: Chinchilla News)

Western Downs Regional Council is planning to spend thousands of dollars drug-testing employees. (Photo credit: Chinchilla News)

THE council plans to spend at least $30-48,000 a year drug testing employees, according to a new report.

The program, which began in November last year, was a “grassroot initiative” from the council’s safety committees, which comprise “staff-elected representatives and management appointees”.

According to the report, it was these committees which requested random drug and alcohol testing throughout council workplaces, something management agreed to.

To date, the council has spent $10,909 on 102 drug tests for employees in Dalby, Chinchilla, Miles and Tara.

The council uses Myall Medical Clinic for the saliva-based tests, and tests for amphetamines, opiates, cocaine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and cannabis (THC).

Drug tests cost $141 per employee in Miles, $110 in Chinchilla and $100 in Dalby.

The costs vary based on location due to transport and the number of tests carried out.

More than 500 employees have been breath-tested for alcohol since the program started, which the council does internally.

The report said no staff member has returned a positive reading for drugs or alcohol.

Council has set targets of screening 200-250 employees every month for alcohol, and a further 25-40 employees per month for drugs and alcohol, at a minimum cost of $30-48,000 per year, assuming all those tested were in Dalby.

Those costs would increase if Miles, Tara, or Chinchilla staff were added to the mix.

The report concluded that the program “has been positively received by all employees as visible evidence of the council’s commitment to safety first”.

“It has delivered positive and tangible results that align council with current industry standards,” the report said.

“Furthermore, it has sent a positive message to the wider community of council’s commitment to safety not only for its employees but also for the broader community.”

All council’s senior executives have been drug tested.

As councillors are elected officials and not employees, they do not get tested as part of the program.

This piece was originally seen on ‘Chinchilla News’ March 21st, 2017.

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