Oamaru employers in high risk industries say they are finding it difficult to fill positions due to people failing pre-employment drug tests.
Companies such as Lean Meats and Nick Sim Forestry Contractor now require mandatory drug testing for prospective employees.
Lean Meats personnel officer Christie Te Aho said about three out of every 10 job candidates failed the tests.
Lean Meats introduced the mandatory drug testing policy about 18 months ago and it had made it harder to fill positions, she said.
However, the tests had led to a drop in the number of health and safety incidents and the atmosphere in the workplace was better, Ms Te Aho said.
“We have found that since we have been doing drug tests the calibre of people actually applying has gone up.”
Plant manager Bruce McNaught said drug use was not restricted to one age group and before the drug testing policy was enforced, many users were being hired for jobs which put themselves and others at risk.
“More and more businesses are drug testing now and seeing some benefits,” he said.
Forestry contractor Nick Sim said he had been running pre-employment drug tests as part of his drug and alcohol policy for about five years and there had been a number of prospective employees who were unable to get jobs.
“It excludes a lot of people from applying for positions,” he said.
“There has been quite a significant decrease in the people applying over the last few years.”
While it did make it more difficult to find someone to fill a position, it was better in the long-term not having people using drugs and working in the forestry industry, he said.
“I think it is a great benefit long term.
“We don’t want that type of person.”
Workbridge Oamaru employment consultant Sandra Familton said many of her clients were failing drug tests.
Workbridge, which is an employment service for people with disabilities, refer those failing the tests to intervention services, but waiting lists could be long, so they would be out of work for lengthy periods of time, she said.
Even if they did get in touch with the services, it was up to them to want to get help, she said.
Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat plant, probably North Otago’s largest employer, was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Oamaru Mail.
By RUBY HARFIELD
PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD
WORK IS AVAILABLE: Lean Meats personnel officer Christie Te Aho and plant manager Bruce McNaught are finding that jobs are not being filled because prospective employees are failing drug tests.