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8. Alternative methods

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There are ways to address health and safety in the workplace other than drug and alcohol testing. Several other factors, including fatigue and stress, can cause workplace accidents. Many organizations safely carry out high-risk work without drug and alcohol testing policies.[81] As stated earlier, employers should use the least intrusive means of assessing impairment or fitness for work.

When considering how best to address safety, employers should consider developing alternative approaches that do not have a discriminatory effect.[82] For example, EAPs can help people with a drug or alcohol addiction, and can also help employees deal with the stress that may lead to an addiction. Health promotion and drug education programs can also prevent problems before they start by getting at the root causes.

Other alternatives to testing may include:

  • Using or developing performance tests, which can test for cognitive or psychomotor impairment related to the integral parts of the job
  • Training supervisors or others to assess behaviour that can affect workplace safety, including signs of someone being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Random checks
  • Planned observations and audits
  • Peer monitoring.

[81] Mechanical Contractors Assn Sarnia, 2013, supra note 29 at para 141. 

[82] As part of the three-step BFR test, the following non-exhaustive factors should be considered: whether the organization investigated alternative approaches that do not have a discriminatory effect; reasons why viable alternatives were not put in place; whether the organization can meet its legitimate objectives in a less discriminatory way; whether the standard is properly designed to make sure the desired qualification is met without placing undue burden on the people it applies to; etc. Meiorinsupra note 25, at para 65.

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