Fleet News

Alcohol testing fleet sets safety blueprint

A RAILWAY track maintenance firm has introduced an innovative drug-testing programme for its fleet drivers as part of a strict 'zero tolerance' drug and alcohol policy that could provide a blueprint for fleets throughout the country.

Barrow-upon-Humber-based C. Spencer Limited is randomly testing saliva of its drivers, management and sub contractors to ensure employees are safe on the road as part of its strict risk management programme.

The firm already has a testing policy, using urine, but decided on the change because the new method was less invasive and quicker.

Spencer's risk manager Andy Merrison said: 'The trial has been a great success and we shall be using the new procedures on an on-going basis. The sampling is a lot faster and it is a non-invasive process so it preserves the individuals' dignity and it still has the security in the testing process.

'It has made such a difference to us as a company, in helping us to maintain an efficient employee drug-alcohol policy.

'We did not appreciate before just how intrusive urine testing was for our employees.'

The firm is using a system pioneered by Altrix Healthcare, in which a cotton pad takes saliva from the cheek of the mouth. These samples are then sent to an Altrix laboratory to be analysed. Results are then passed back to Spencer, with clear results confirmed within two days.

Suspicious samples take a further three days to be tested, and then are passed to an independent examiner to verify the findings.

Merrison added: 'The quality of support and service has been first class, and we are looking at drugs testing for our pre-employment procedures of the future.'

Mary Williams, director of road safety organisation Brake, has already claimed fleets which handle the issue carefully can implement such schemes as standard without problems. She said: 'If alcohol and drugs testing is implemented in partnership with staff or unions, it is generally welcomed. It is possible to do this with proper communication.'

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