Workers in dangerous jobs require more drug, alcohol monitoring: Cabinet

Tamara van Ark
Tamara van ArkPhoto: Rijksoverheid

The government is investigating whether workers in dangerous jobs can be forced to take regular drug- and alcohol tests. Due to privacy rules, only a small professional group - drivers, pilots, train drivers, among others - can currently be tested on alcohol or drug use. But VVD State Secretary Tamara van Ark of Social Affairs wants to change the law so that companies have more options to act if they think employees are under the influence, AD reports.

This expansion will initially only apply to companies in the chemical industry, because a mistake involving hazardous substances can have far-reaching consequences, Van Ark said. "If someone in this sector presses the wrong button under the influence, there is potential damage not only for himself or for his colleagues, but for the entire environment."

In due time, she hopes to expand alcohol and drug monitoring to large sectors such as construction and metal, according to the newspaper. 

The State Secretary had hoped that employers' and employees' organizations would together come up with better agreements on how to stop alcohol- and drug use on the work floor. But this turned out to be impossible. Trade unions fear that tests will be an invasion of privacy and of physical integrity.

Van Ark called this a "big dilemma", but thinks the safety aspect is important enough to at least experiment with monitoring. "A test is primarily in the interest of employees themselves. You don't want to think of someone no coming home because of a mistake made by a drunk colleague."