Updated Network Rail Drug and Alcohol Screening Standard

Updated Network Rail Drug and Alcohol Screening Standard

Published: 16/03/2023

It is with great pleasure that we welcome the recent update to the Network Rail Drugs and Alcohol Standard. The standard (NR/L2/OHS/00120), which was published on 3 September 2022, will see an increase from 5% to 20% of all safety critical colleagues to be randomly selected for a Drug and Alcohol screen each year. The updated business process applies to all Network Rail employees, prospective candidates, contractors, the supply chain, and any individual who works for or on behalf of Network Rail. 


The standard has been implemented with the aim of preventing the commission of offences involving drugs or alcohol. It also prevents the recruitment of individuals who misuse drugs or alcohol and ensures a fairly managed, random screening system is in place.


With the current proliferation of drugs in society, the change to the Network Rail standard couldn’t have been introduced at a more fitting time. Statistics recently released by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) indicate that 206 drug and drink driving offences are committed every day in England and Wales - a total of 75,159 offences annually. Further, the newly published data highlights that convictions for drug driving have more than trebled over the past five years from 7,683 in 2017, to 27,962 by the end of 2021.


Whilst this updated regulation only directly applies to the Rail Industry, it can be argued that every PSV, HGV, coach, van, plant, machinery and company car driver, are ‘safety critical’ and therefore, organisations should look to implement a similar standard as a minimum. With 74% of substance abusers in full-time employment, it is naïve to assume that your organisation isn’t affected by drink or drug drivers, suggesting the management of substance misuse should be a priority for all employers.


As a director, senior manager, or transport manager you not only have a social and moral responsibility, but as outlined by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), you have a legal duty to protect your employees’ health, safety and welfare. In a court of law, you are considered personally responsible for ensuring you do the right thing when it comes to drug and alcohol screening. Sadly, there are weekly news reports relating to fatalities and serious injuries arising from work related incidents. Following an incident, the court will consider the actions of the employer. Did they take reasonable steps to manage the risks and do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm? Liability is now apportioned by role and significant fines and prosecution including custodial sentences are now handed out personally.


Understanding the signs of drug and alcohol misuse will help you to manage health and safety risk in your workplace, develop a policy to deal with drug and alcohol-related problems and most importantly, support your employees.


We understand the sensitivities of addressing this challenging and emotive issue and the need to approach it with education and training. Therefore, if you are looking to implement drug and alcohol screening within your organisation, give us a call today on 0800 371898 or email enquiries@dtecinternational.com to see how we can help keep your workforce protected. 

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