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The 8 Components of a Drug & Alcohol Testing Policy

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018, the prevalence of drug and alcohol testing in safety sensitive and safety critical job positions has increased. SureHire Occupational Testing has seen an 8% year over year increase in drug testing (urine, oral fluid, hair) from October 17, 2018 to May 31, 2019. Reasons for drug testing include pre-employment, pre-access, post incident, reasonable cause, random, return to work and follow up.

Cannabis legalization has created an increased awareness around the importance ensuring a safe, healthy and productive workforce with cannabis now easily accessible. As a result companies that employ safety sensitive workers are increasingly adding drug and alcohol testing as one of their tools to keep workers and work sites safe.

That being said employers need to be aware of the intricacies surrounding the implementation of a drug and alcohol testing program into the workforce. The law firm of Miller Thompson ( recently presented on "Innovations Regarding Fitness for Duty" and presented some key thoughts and associated case studies which will be highlighted over a few blogs.

As per Miller Thompson, a clear and objective drug and alcohol company policy must be created prior to implementing a drug and alcohol testing program. A legally reviewed policy must contain and define the following areas:

  1. Statement of purpose, objectives, principles
  2. Application of policy (employees, contractors, others?)
  3. Identification of the workplace (business, mill/plant, employer's vehicle - anywhere, off hours while in identifiable company uniforms or at employer sponsored social events)
  4. Expectations (possession, distribution, use of impairing substances, including medications at work)
  5. Fitness for Work (likely different criteria for office, safety-sensitive, safety-critical workplaces)
  6. Health/human rights accommodation and supports for employees with substance abuse disorders
  7. Testing (pre-employment, reasonable cause, post incident, return-to-work after treatment)
  8. Consequences for policy violation

One reason why is it important to consider implementing a drug and alcohol testing program for safety sensitive work forces is because in September 2018 the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada (OEMAC) issued the following recommendation regarding cannabis.

"Recognized that timing and duration of cannabis impairment is variable and until better research is available, recommend employees not engage in safety-sensitive tasks for a minimum of 24 hours following consumption"

If you have any questions regarding creating a drug and alcohol policy or implementing a customized drug and alcohol testing program that suits your specific company needs please visit our website at or email