The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) "announced early this month that it will go ahead with plans to randomly test employees for drug and alcohol use.":http://globalnews.ca/news/3099514/ttc-forging-ahead-with-random-drug-testing-of-employees/ The random testing program was originally proposed back in 2011 when, after a tragic bus accident killed one person and injured 13 others in Toronto, the driver of the bus refused a post-incident drug test and was later found to have had marijuana in his possession at the time of the accident. Now that funding for the program has been approved, random testing is slated to begin for TTC drivers on March 1, 2017.
Impaired driving has become one of Canada’s foremost safety concerns in recent years. Among the world’s wealthiest nations," Canada ranks highest in the proportion of motor vehicle fatalities that are linked to impaired driving.":http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadas-drunk-driving-death-rate-worst-among-wealthy-countries-u-s-study-finds Canada is also one of the highest prescribers of opioid medications in the world, with high rates of medical and recreational marijuana use. It is never safe to drive while under the influence of these kinds of drugs, yet many Canadians persist in doing so, often resulting in injury and loss of life. At the workplace, drug use is sadly not uncommon: "substance abuse is a factor in an estimated 35% of all workplace fatalities,":http://surehire.ca/statistics/ with between 10-20% of people who die on the job testing positive for drugs or alcohol (see Stanley, 2009).
Opponents may argue that the testing program will violate workers’ privacy rights. However, in industries like transportation, which are inherently safety-sensitive, random drug testing is valuable and necessary safety measure with the power to significantly enhance safety at the workplace.
TTC’s previous program tested drivers only when there was reasonable cause to suspect the individual was impaired; for example, a driver might be tested after an accident has occurred or if the driver is exhibiting unsafe or unusual behaviour. However, it is not always easy to recognize impairment when we see it, and just because a driver appears to be unimpaired does not always mean that he or she is okay to drive. The main advantage of random drug testing is that it is capable of catching an impaired driver before an accident occurs, while also discouraging drivers from working while impaired because of the real possibility of getting caught before even getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
The random testing program implemented by TTC is designed to help mitigate the growing concern over drug use at the workplace and on the roads. TTC’s hope is that this move will help guarantee a safe road for every driver, passenger, and pedestrian.
More about random drug testing: "http://surehire.ca/services/drug-alcohol-testing-services/random-drug-alcohol-testing/":http://surehire.ca/services/drug-alcohol-testing-services/random-drug-alcohol-testing/
Stanley, T. L. (2009). Workplace substance abuse: A grave problem. Supervision, 70(6). 18-21
Photo credit: Oran Viriyincy
/ CC BY-SA