Pubdate: Fri, 21 Sep 2012
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2012 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Dave Coles
Page: A13


Re: "Life saver," Editorial, Sept. 8.

Mandatory drug and alcohol testing has no proven impact on workplace
safety and is degrading to employees.

For example, more than two-thirds of oil process facility accidents
are related to failure of plant equipment and breaches of health and
safety regulations. In those cases where worker error is identified,
design, operations and management have been cited as possible causes.

Testing violates basic human rights to the point where the Canadian
Human Rights Commission has deemed it unacceptable. Those who suffer
from disabilities are entitled to fair treatment; this includes
workers who may use drugs as a result of a disability, and alcoholism
is a recognized disability. The commission has ruled that the right of
employees to get treatment and the duty of employers to accommodate
workers with disabilities takes priority over management rights or
collective agreements.

Drug testing may also reveal information on a worker's medication,
causing an employer to question his or her integrity when they have
been found fit for work by a doctor.

Our union's experience in representing workers in various workplaces,
from paper mills to oil sands to TV studios, has proven that education
and prevention with union counsellor networks in local unions and
negotiated, joint, professional and confidential employee assistance
programs is an effective way to tackle the root of drug and alcohol

Dave Coles,

Ottawa Dave Coles is national president of the Communications, Energy
and Paperworkers Union of Canada.
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