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Tara Cunningham, 30, worked at Boggabri open-cut coal mine in New South Wales until recently. Tara was employed by Downer to drive very large dump trucks, a task which required focus and precision to protect the safety of herself and the people around her; however, this was a task that she failed to do correctly.
Downer protects the safety and welfare of the staff onsite by adhering to strict alcohol and drug management protocols. The test carried out on Tara had detected the presence of methamphetamine four times more than the company’s cut-off reporting figure. Their zero drug tolerance meant that termination was deemed reasonable. Downer offered the employee the opportunity to “explain whether there was some reasonable explanation for the presence of the drug, and she asserted her drink was spiked”.
The night before the drug test she had been drinking with two unknown men in a hotel room and then arrived at work feeling “perfectly well and not under the influence of any drug”.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU) that represented Tara argued that because she was unaware that her drink had been spiked, and did not consent to the consumption of methamphetamine she should not have been terminated. The CFMEU argued that there was “no valid reason for her dismissal and criticised the company’s decision”.
Commissioner Ian Cambridge said “the test result was appropriately treated as a serious risk to the safety of fellow workers” and that Tara’s actions had carried out “critical safety implications for the welfare of all those who work at the mine”.
Downer’s lawyer stated that “it was generous for Downer to provide the opportunity to explain why Tara had drugs in her system, but found that her explanation was absolutely implausible”. The drug and alcohol policy Downer has in place ensures that serious misconduct of employees will not be tolerated.
The policy ensured that the employer correctly carried out the termination of the employee and that the Fair Work Act was followed.
If you are an employer and would like to protect your company and employees from harm or drug use whilst at work, call Employsure. We can help by implementing policies and procedures in order to protect your business. Call us today on 1300 651 415 or fill in the form below.
*Information sourced via the Smart Company Website.