Ice epidemic enters the workplace: special report

Written on the 1 June 2016

Ice epidemic enters the workplace: special report

Western Australian businesses are the new frontline in the battle against ice, according to new data from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI).

CCI's employee relations hotline has seen a five-fold increase in calls since 2012 from employers who need help dealing with drug abuse particularly ice within their workforce.

"Employers have told tales of aggressive outbursts, paranoid and psychotic behaviours, mood swings, unexplained absences and even being threatened at work at gunpoint," CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said.

"There has been a sharp spike in calls to the CCI hotline related to drug abuse this year and they can be directly attributed to ice."

Methamphetamine is now threatening the safety of Western Australian workers and undermining the productivity of our workplaces, Ms Willmott said.

"Two or three years ago, our consultants rarely received these types of queries, but now they're receiving calls almost every week from employers asking for help dealing with people affected by drugs in their workplace," she said.

"Employers have told CCI that in some cases they are too frightened to approach suspected ice users because of unpredictable or violent behaviour many in-house drug policies and human resource managers are simply not equipped to deal with such an overwhelming and volatile risk.

"Our Members tell us that to fight this new battle, the industrial relations system needs to allow businesses to implement drug testing and disciplinary strategies that allow employers to protect their employees and organisation effectively from the significant threats posed by ice abuse."

Fortescue Metals Group Chief Executive Officer Nev Power said as a society, we need to consider what more can be done to tackle this problem at the source of supply.

"At Fortescue we have zero tolerance towards use or possession of illegal drugs anyone who uses or possesses illegal drugs on a Fortescue site is putting the safety of themselves and their mates at risk, which is completely unacceptable," Mr Power said.

"Governments need to take real and measurable action to eradicate this blight on society and provide increased investment in regional drug rehabilitation and support services to help build stronger communities.

"I urge all businesses to take a zero tolerance approach to drugs in the workplace, while providing access to support services to help users remove drugs from their life and have the opportunity for a fresh start."

For more information go to CCIWA.

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