Implementing a DAMP - Drug and alcohol testing program
What's the purpose of a DAMP testing program?
The purpose of a DAMP testing program is to ensure that people under the influence of AOD while performing SSAAs are promptly identified and tested.
The testing program should also have a deterrent effect on problematic AOD use by current and future employees.
Who must be tested and when?
All employees, including contractors, sub-contractors and volunteers, who perform, or are available to perform, SSAAs must be AOD tested in the following circumstances:
When an employee first joins an organisation
- New employees joining the organisation as a regular SSAA employee; or
- existing employees whose role is changing to a SSAA role (must be tested before they start performing SSAAs).
Exceptions: there are two circumstances where such testing is not required:
- under DAMP exemption - use of pre-hiring drug and alcohol tests, a pre-hiring test conducted by the organisation can meet the testing requirement if the test was conducted in the preceding 90 days and the results were not positive
- if the employee has been tested by another DAMP organisation in the preceding 90 days and the results were not positive.
The organisation must still confirm that the tests were conducted in accordance with the standards, and keep records.
Testing must take place when a DAMP supervisor has 'reasonable grounds' to believe that an SSAA employee may be adversely affected by AOD.
What amounts to 'reasonable grounds' will vary and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of possible 'reasonable grounds' include:
- excessive and/or unexplained absenteeism
- 'on-the-job' absenteeism (e.g. long breaks, frequent trips to the bathroom)
- a decline in the quality of work (e.g. misunderstanding instructions, missed deadlines, accidents or near misses)
- verified reports from people who have witnessed the individual's AOD use.
Returning to work after suspension due to testable drug use
Testing must take place when an SSAA employee is returning to work after suspension due to testing positive to a testable drug (see the *Drug and alcohol response program section for more detail).
After an 'accident' or 'serious incident'
Testing must be conducted after an 'accident' or 'serious incident' involving an SSAA employee, if 'suitable test conditions' exist. 'Suitable test conditions' means that testing can be conducted within the following timeframes and it is practicable to do the tests:
- alcohol testing within 8 hours of the accident or incident
- drug testing within 32 hours of the accident or incident.
Need more information on who must be tested and when?
Further guidance on who must be tested and when under a Part 99B compliant testing program is contained in the
How is testing administered?
Alcohol tests must only be conducted by taking a breath sample on a device that meets one of the following Australian standards:
- Standard AS3547 - Breath alcohol testing devices for personal use.
- Standard NMI R 126 - Pattern approval specifications for evidential breath analysers.
Breath alcohol testing can be conducted in-house (i.e. on your organisation's premises) or by an external testing provider.
The person conducting the breath alcohol test does not need any particular qualifications or accreditation, as long as the device meets one of the relevant standards and is used according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The procedure for drug testing under CASR Part 99B can be divided into three steps:
- Collection of a specimen (urine or oral fluid).
- Initial (screening) test to detect the presence of a testable drug in the specimen
- Confirmatory test if the initial (screening) test returns a 'non-negative' or 'detected' result to confirm the presence and level of a testable drug.
The following Australian Standards must be met:
- Oral fluid - AS 4760 - Procedures for specimen collection and the detection and quantitation of drugs in oral fluid.
- Urine - AS/NZS 4308 - Procedures for specimen collection and the detection and quantitation of drugs of abuse in urine.
What drugs are tested for?
Amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and opiates. The cut-off levels are set out in the relevant Australian Standard.
What happens if an initial test returns a positive result?
A confirmatory alcohol test must be conducted in the time period specified by the device manufacturer's instructions. The 'permitted level' of alcohol is less than 0.02 grams of alcohol per 210 litres of breath. If the confirmatory alcohol test shows that this level is reached or exceeded, it is considered a positive alcohol test and the employee must immediately cease SSAAs. The organisation's drug and alcohol response program must then be implemented.
The employee must cease SSAAs and a confirmatory test is conducted by an appropriately accredited testing provider sto determine the presence and level of the testable drug.
What happens if a confirmatory test returns a positive result?
The employee must not resume SSAAs. See the *Drug and alcohol response program section for what happens next.
Need more information?
See the Testing Program sections of the