This is why West Lothian Council employees will soon be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol

West Lothian Council will be one of the first in Scotland to introduce a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy- backed up by random testing – for employees.
West Lothian council leader Lawrence FitzpatrickWest Lothian council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick
West Lothian council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick

The Council Executive agreed to introduce random drug testing in September for staff in posts defined as ‘safety critical’.

Five other Scottish councils have a drugs/alcohol policy but only one, Shetland, tests sea-going staff.

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The council will also introduce “with cause” testing for other staff groups. Several other councils already have a form of “with cause testing” in place. With cause testing will be prompted either by behaviour and/or whistle-blowing reports.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has suggested that there may be a case for introducing random testing for ‘safety critical’ roles (staff with responsibility for making safety-critical decisions such as drivers and some machine operators).

There are a range of posts across the council that are considered to be safety critical, particularly those which involve the use of heavy machinery or an occupational requirement to drive Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) or Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCVs).

Councillor Damian Timson, Tory group leader said: “People in safety critical posts must be aware that they can be tested at any time.”

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Lawrence Fitzpatrick, leader of the council said: “A review of the overall content of the council’s current policy indicated that a radical overhaul of the existing policy was not required. However, there is a case for re-focusing the council’s approach which strikes a better balance between the disciplinary and legal implications of substance misuse and the supportive aspect of the policy.

“The revised policy will strike a more appropriate balance by setting out a robust zero tolerance approach to alcohol and drug misuse in the workplace while acknowledging a duty of care towards employees who suffer from alcohol and/or drug addiction.