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Understanding drug and alcohol response programs
What is a drug and alcohol response program?
A drug and alcohol response program is a mandatory component of an organisation's Drug and Alcohol Management Plan (DAMP) under Part 99B of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998. Its aim is to ensure that anyone performing a 'safety sensitive aviation activity' (SSAA) under the influence of alcohol or other drugs (AOD) stops performing those activities until it is deemed safe for them to resume them.
An organisation's response program is activated when impermissible AOD use is confirmed via its testing program.
When must an employee cease SSAAs?
A DAMP organisation must stop an employee from performing SSAAs in the following circumstances:
- If the employee returns a positive result for an initial AOD test. They must not return to performing SSAAs until a confirmatory test returns a negative result.
- If the employee recorded a positive result for a confirmatory AOD test under DAMP or CASA testing, and a Medical Review Officer (MRO) determined that the result was not due to legitimate therapeutic treatment or another innocuous source.
- If the employee refused a test or interfered with the integrity of a test.
- If a DAMP supervisor has reasonable grounds to suspect that a SSAA employee is under the influence of a testable drug or alcohol.
- If an 'accident' or 'serious incident' has occurred.
When can an employee resume SSAAs?
If an organisation has stopped an employee from performing SSAAs in any of the circumstances listed above, it must only allow them to resume SSAAs if they:
- undergo a 'comprehensive assessment'; and
- begin an 'intervention program' nominated by the MRO if the comprehensive assessment has recommended this; and
- are considered fit to return to SSAA by the MRO and treating clinician (if any); and
- record a negative confirmatory drug test result and the MRO is satisfied of the absence of AOD use.
Do I have to return a SSAA employee to work?
No. The question of whether an employee should be returned to work will be determined by your organisation's individual policies and procedures regarding AOD use in the workplace.
What is a 'comprehensive assessment'?
The purpose of a comprehensive assessment is to:
- determine the extent of an employee's AOD use
- recommend the most suitable treatment options.
A comprehensive assessment can be conducted:
- by a psychiatrist
- by a doctor specialising in addictions
- jointly by a doctor and an 'appropriately qualified alcohol and other drug professional'.
What is an 'intervention program'?
Following a comprehensive assessment the MRO may recommend an intervention program tailored to the needs of the individual in question. It may include any of the following:
- treatment (education, counselling, treatment programs)
- monitoring and follow-up.
If a DAMP organisation intends to allow employees to resume SSAAs, its DAMP must include a commitment to allowing the employee the time to attend a nominated AOD intervention program if advised by the MRO.
CASR Part 99B - Quick reference guide to response programs
DAMP organisations should ensure that they are familiar with the relevant regulations in Subpart 99B. The full text of Part 99 is available on the ComLaw website under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.
|Returning to SSAAs||99.070|
|Definitions - 'compressive assessment'; 'intervention program'; 'accident'; 'serious incident'; 'appropriately qualified alcohol and other drug professional'||99.010|
Need more information?
Visit Drug and Alcohol Management Plans (DAMP) - Part 99 on CASA's website for information on regulatory requirements, guidance materials, available exemptions, resources and contacts.