EDITORIAL: Lessons to learn in Linfoxs botched drug test

By: Jason Whittaker


Last week it was A Current Affair, staking out an inspection stop along the Nullarbor to prosecute drug taking among

Last week it was A Current Affair, staking out an inspection stop along the Nullarbor to prosecute drug taking among truck drivers. This week it was Today Tonight in another expose on speeding, drug-addicted drivers.

Some truck drivers take drugs. Probably a minority, but the perception at least is there and it’s up to trucking operators to clean it up.

Linfox has one of the most renowned safety records in the country and a vigilant drug testing policy for its drivers. But the company has learned a valuable lesson in how to conduct drug testing in its depots.

A decision from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission has set a significant precedent in punishing Linfox for not adequately educating its drivers on drug testing procedure.

Linfox, as is company policy, fired the driver in question for refusing a saliva test for drugs. But the ruling has forced the company to reinstate him and pay compensation because it failed to inform him of his obligations under the policy.

Essentially, Linfox posted the policy in the tea room without mentioning it to drivers. Not good enough, said the Commission, after scathing evidence from the defence lawyer.

"It’s an incomprehensible situation that a major transport company that prides itself on safety and integrity in upholding safety on the roads cannot produce one shred of evidence supporting its contention that each of its employees participated in a training program about safety," the lawyer told the court.

The message is clear: while trucking operators must identify, punish and rehabilitate drugged drivers for the good of the industry, it must be done in true partnership with its drivers. Education of drugs and drug taking policy must be drummed into drivers.

Just another thing operators must add to the bulging training manuals…

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