People working offshore not only need to be in sound physical condition to work effectively, but also need to have a clear head and be constantly alert to safety issues around them.
Anyone who considers working while under the influence of drugs would not only be jeopardising their own safety but that of their colleagues.
No one in their right mind would want to be the passenger in a car driven by someone who had been using illicit drugs, and you certainly wouldn’t want to be working with heavy machinery offshore alongside a colleague who is unable to concentrate sufficiently.
There have to be strict regulations prohibiting the misuse of drugs, and drug screening is a necessity to enforce these regulations.
Companies are well aware of the potential risks and dangers and have their own drug and alcohol policies and will have developed drug testing procedures to manage this issue.
Drug screening is a vital service that enables companies to maintain safety standards and improve the health of their workforce. Employees need to be properly educated on the personal and professional consequences of drug misuse.
Drug testing is often carried out on a random basis so that employees are aware that they might be tested at any time – the element of surprise keeps everyone on their toes and acts as a major deterrent.
Illicit drug use cannot be tolerated, and if an oil&gas worker feels they cannot comply with these restrictions, they have picked the wrong career.
However, drug testing should hold no fears for anyone who has not been using illicit drugs. In any case, drug testing is always carried out with politeness and respect by nurses or screening technicians.
Persons to be tested are asked to complete a form and are asked to record medications they are currently taken. This means any medication, including substances such as throat lozenges and cold remedies.
The reason for this is that certain medications can interfere with the test and some prescription medicines are not allowed offshore. It is really important that the form is filled in completely and that you declare anything you are taking.
There is no need to worry if you think you will be nervous and unable to provide a specimen when required. You will be given plenty of time to produce the necessary urine specimen and can have a drink of water if that helps.
If you know you are to have a drug test at a specific time, it is a good idea to hold back from using the toilet until you arrive for your test so that the urgency to urinate makes it easy to produce a specimen.
There are all sorts of weird and wonderful cocktails of mixtures advertised on the internet that are supposed to mask traces of drugs in urine. Sometimes, it is thought that if you drink huge quantities of water before a test it will wash out any drug traces.
Neither of these methods of avoiding detection work and, as long as you have not been using illicit drugs, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
If a substance is found in the specimen, a sample is sent off to a laboratory for confirmation.
A “chain of custody” procedure is followed scrupulously by the nurse or screening technician and you need not feel anxious that your specimen could become muddled up with someone else’s or that an incorrect result will be given.
It cannot be repeated too many times that if you have not been using illicit drugs, you can feel relaxed about the whole procedure from start to finish.
Sue Jordan is Aberdeen units manager for Abermed, which specialises in providing medical and occupational-health services to the international oil&gas industry. For more information, see www.abermed.com