Understanding CASA testing
Who can be drug and alcohol tested by CASA?
Anyone in an aerodrome testing area, other than a passenger, can be tested by CASA. People can be randomly selected based solely on the fact they are present in an aerodrome testing area. In addition, anyone who is performing (or is available to perform) a 'safety sensitive aviation activity' (as defined in the regulations) can be tested by CASA, whether or not those activities are conducted in an aerodrome testing area.
No one can be forced to undergo CASA testing. However, refusing or failing to give a body sample may constitute a prosecutable offence. Further, anyone failing or refusing to give a body sample must stop performing or being available to perform an applicable SSAA. Failure to do so may result in a criminal charge.
What are CASA's testing procedures?
CASA may conduct alcohol and/or drug testing. Alcohol testing is on a breath sample and drug testing is on oral fluid samples. The subject will be asked by an approved CASA tester to provide a sample. If applicable, they must stop performing any SSAAs and remain in the approved tester's company for the duration of the testing.
What happens if the initial test returns a positive result?
If an initial alcohol breath test is positive, the CASA tester will conduct a confirmatory test on an evidentiary breath analysis machine. If this test returns a negative result, the whole test will be regarded as negative. If positive, the subject will be issued with a 'notice'; CASA will be notified; and the person must stop performing applicable SSAAs.
If an initial oral fluid sample result is positive, a further sample of oral fluid will be taken for a confirmatory drug test. If that test is positive, another sample will be taken and subjected to confirmatory drug testing by an approved laboratory. A person must not continue to perform or be available to perform SSAAs until the confirmatory laboratory result has been returned.
What happens next?
A CASA medical review officer (MRO) must review a positive AOD test result before CASA makes a decision to take action (whether administrative or legal) against the person. The person must not perform or be available to perform an SSAA until they have:
- undergone a comprehensive assessment
- begun participating in an AOD intervention program if recommended
- been considered fit to resume duties by their DAMP medical review officer, CASA's MRO and their treating clinician (if any).
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