Jobsite drug tests piloted in British Columbia

Posted by Rumin Mann
June 2nd, 2010

The first drug testing program of its kind in Canada has evidence to support the claim that drinking or using illegal drugs on the job is not a major problem for unionized construction workers in British Columbia.

“The B.C. construction industry testing and treatment program is alive and well, and we have tested about 1,500 people,” said Construction Labour Relations Association (CLRA) president Clyde Scollan. “We have about 10 projects where testing has been done. So far, we are running at 3.4 per cent positive test results.

“The industry average for similar programs in different jurisdictions is 5 per cent or higher.”

The CLRA of B.C. and the Bargaining Council of British Columbia Building Trades Unions announced in August, 2008, that B.C.’s construction unions and their employers have developed a unique substance abuse testing and treatment policy.

In most jurisdictions that have testing, employers hire an agency to administer company policy. The program in B.C. has one administrator, which makes it much easier to deal with 14 different trades and hundreds of different contractors.

The administrator co-ordinates everything, including testing, holding on to test results, supervision of rehabilitation, and referrals to counsellors and doctors.

The standardization of the program has produced good statistics, an essential component of the testing program.

“The biggest part was to confirm what I was hoping, that a vast majority of unionized workers are clean of drugs and alcohol,” said Mark Olsen, president of the Bargaining Council of B.C. Building Trades Unions and the business manager of the Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611.

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