A comprehensive alcohol and drug testing policy in the workplace as an intervention in the mining sector


  • Maretha Maree
  • Elizabeth Lightfoot
  • Janetta A. Ananias


The abuse of alcohol and drugs can negatively affect the workplace. The testing of workers for substances is a sensitive, yet effective intervention to minimise the percentage of workers who test positively for substance abuse. Little research has been conducted to assess the impact of alcohol and drug testing on the workplace. Thus, this qualitative study, carried out in the mining industry in Namibia, investigates how a comprehensive workplace policy on alcohol and drug abuse can reduce substance abuse among workers during working hours. Data was gathered by means of six focus group discussions and 16 in-depth interviews, incorporating workers from all job grades, as well as community members in a closed mining town. The findings show that the comprehensive alcohol and drug testing policy had a positive impact on reducing the occurrence of substance abuse in the workplace. Since the introduction of both random drug and alcohol tests and fit-for-work testing, fewer workers were testing positively for the presence of substances, and participants noted how workers restricted their substance use specifically because of the testing. A central feature of this particular alcohol and drug testing policy is its provision of substance abuse treatment to workers who tested positively for the presence of substances and the involvement of a social worker hired by the mine, rather than simply a punitive approach. However, findings also show that treatment programs need to be followed up with standard aftercare procedures, such as support groups and training on policies and procedures around alcohol and drug testing, in order to improve worker perceptions and acceptance of policies. Furthermore, prevention efforts were regarded as more cost-effective and proactive than the treatment of substance abuse, and holistic substance abuse training was seen as improving awareness among workers.


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How to Cite

Maree, M., Lightfoot, E., & Ananias, J. A. (2016). A comprehensive alcohol and drug testing policy in the workplace as an intervention in the mining sector. Journal for Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, 120–126. Retrieved from https://journals.unam.edu.na/index.php/JSHSS/article/view/1029