Drug and alcohol testing following accident

Determining when testing is appropriate
By Brian Johnston
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/05/2012

Question: If an employee who operates machinery and other equipment requiring a certain level of skill is involved in a serious accident at work, can the employer order the employee to be tested for drugs and alcohol? If the workplace is unionized and the collective agreement doesn’t address the situation, what can the employer do?

Answer: The first response to this question is another question: does the employer have a policy in place with respect to drug and alcohol testing? If so, and if the policy is reasonable and has been effectively communicated to employees, the employer will likely be able to test.

Even with a policy, however, an employer must be careful not to require a test unless there are reasonable grounds. Fortunately, reasonable grounds can be established as part of the policy. In Imperial Oil Ltd. v. C.E.P., Local 900, for instance, a policy indicated that the occurrence of a serious accident at the workplace (which was a safety-sensitive environment) was reasonable grounds for conducting testing.