||Issue No. 187||18 July 2003|
Hearts, Minds and Other Body Parts
Interview: As They Say In The Bible ...
Industrial: Just Doing It
Unions: Breaking Into the Boys Club
Activists: Making the Hard Yards
Bad Boss: In the Pooh
Unions: National Focus
Economics: Pop Will Eat Itself
Technology: Dean for President
International: Rangoon Rumble
Education: Blackboard Jungle
Review: From Weakness to Strength
Authority Shafts Excessive Mine Hours
Insurance Quiz: Money or the Baby?
Monk Lined up with Jihad Masters
Vote Snooping Bosses Out of House
US Actors Back Aussie Comrades
Teachers Caught in Family Feud
Longer Strikes Spark Picket Code
Max Sets Athens as Airport Standard
Indigenous First for Construction
Call Centre Jobs Diverted From Delhi
The Locker Room
Sid Einfield Would be Proud
Tom in the Manger
Sermon on the Mount
Labor Council of NSW
Hard Drug Stance Stoned
Dr Judith Perl will tell a transport industry forum in Sydney on Monday that punishment, based on random drug testing, will do nothing to make workplaces safer.
"If you are going to punish on the basis of positive urine samples you are going to get in trouble, you are going to make many, many mistakes," she said.
The warning came as the NSW Government flagged regulations that would allow the State Rail Authority (SRA) to sack employees who tested positive for alcohol or drugs, under a new one-strike-and-you're-out policy.
Perl is no soft-touch on the issue of alcohol and drugs. She played a key role in the development of 1987 legislation allowing police to arrest and test motor vehicle drivers for drug impairment, and is used as by police to give evidence on the effect of alcohol and drugs on the human metabolism. Her testimony has helped convict sex attackers and murderers.
But, she says, there is a world of difference between identifying the presence of a substance and pin-pointing impairment.
To sack on those grounds, she says, would be "unjustified" and "very severe".
"There are drugs that hang around for days after use and don't indicate any impairment whatsoever," she says. "You can return a positive reading and be no risk to yourself or anyone else."
Cannabis and morphine, commonly used for pain relief, both fall into that category.
Perl says meaningful attempts to improve workplace health and safety must be based around identifying impairment, rather than exposure.
Professor Anne Williams of the University of NSW and Professor Graham Starmer, University of Sydney, are two other leading academics in the field who will address transport industry employers and unions.
The RTBU's Nick Lewocki is expected to tell the conference the hardline approach is a "knee jerk" reaction to political pressure being brought to bear on new Transport Services Minister, Michael Costa.
Lewocki says alcohol or drug impairment has not been identified as a culprit in one major incident on state rail's accident-prone system.
He is urging Government, instead, to implement recommendations from the Glenbrook Inquiry, including improved communications systems, sign-off procedures, and programs to deal with fatigue.
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