Port imposes drug tests on visitors

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 19/08/2014

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Visitors to Port Taranaki could have to provide a urine sample, with the facility now a drug and alcohol-free site.

The new policy came into play at the Taranaki Regional Council-owned operation yesterday.

Anyone entering the port now faces being tested for drugs and alcohol before being allowed on site.

The tests will be carried out at both of its gates on randomly-selected dates and times. If a person returns a positive, or "not negative" result, their site access will be "‘withdrawn pending the outcome of an investigation/further testing".

Chief executive Roy Weaver said the port and companies operating within it had been carrying out random drug and alcohol tests on staff since 2011.

Additionally a large number of personnel who entered the port precinct were already subject to drug and alcohol policies involving random testing.

"While the extension of the drug and alcohol policy is part of a planned and, in many ways, a natural progression, it is worth noting that under the pending health and safety reform the proposed legislation places considerable onus on a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to provide a safe place of work.

"The port is a PCBU for all activities undertaken on its land and it takes that responsibility seriously," he said.

Such regimes are already common at oil and gas industry sites in Taranaki.

Methanex's director of manufacturing Brian Ropitini said they had conducted random alcohol and drug testing of employees and contractors since 2007 to reduce risk and provide a safer workplace.

"Initially there were some workers who tested positive, however following 2008 that rate dropped significantly to less than one per cent of those tested returning positive.

"Employees and contractors are supportive of the alcohol and drug testing programme along with other safety initiatives, which makes Methanex a safe place to work," he said.

Jason Trembath of the New Zealand Drug Detection Agency said companies that instituted random drug and alcohol testing experienced a reduction in accidents and an increase in production.

In the first year when a company brought in a drug and alcohol policy he said as much as 10 per cent of tests could return non-negative.

But Trembath said this plummeted to between 1 and 2 per cent within two years.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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