COVID-19 cannot be an excuse for relaxing drug testing requirements. To keep their drivers and other motorists safe, Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) says it will continue to uphold its rigorous drug testing methods.
“Despite COVID-19, Innovative Staffing Solutions, one of the largest full-time employers of truck drivers in South Africa, will continue drug-testing our drivers to make sure none of them gets behind the wheel if they have consumed any illegal or banned substances. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the consumption of alcohol or illicit substances which influence any drivers’ performance. We even extended our policy to include prescription drugs that may lead to drowsiness or hindered performance. Due to the nature of their work, our drivers must maintain sobriety at all times,” says Arnoux Maré, Managing Director of Innovative Staffing Solutions.
Maré’s statement comes on the back of a decision made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which issued a waiver to relax drug testing requirements for some truck drivers for the next couple of months during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Using the same safety protocols when screening for COVID-19, we ensure the drug and alcohol testing is conducted confidentially and safely and does not place any member of Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) in danger of contracting or passing on the virus,” Maré explains.
A recently published report from the South Africa Medical Council said trauma cases at the Gauteng’s Baragwanath Hospital doubled within 24 hours after the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol.
“There has also been an increase in motor vehicle accidents due to alcohol consumption. We cannot have our drivers contributing to an already volatile situation by letting them drive under the influence or while intoxicated,” Maré continues.
In 2018, Innovative Staffing Solutions dismissed 300 drivers after they tested positive for marijuana use. This followed the legalisation of cannabis consumption in South Africa for private use.
“A trucker driving under the influence of cannabis can be likened to a non-coherent person barreling a 60-tonne missile down the road at 100km per hour. If the driver loses control of the vehicle, innocent people could lose their lives and infrastructure could be seriously damaged,” explains Maré.
Maré says all drivers at Innovative Staffing Solutions sign a contract that specifies the terms of their employment. The contract states that the employee undertakes and understands that they are not allowed to work or be on either the employer’s, a client’s or any premises where work duties are performed, while under the influence of alcohol and/or intoxicating drugs.
Innovative Staffing Solutions is an essential-services provider which employs over 19,500 permanent employees, with 11,000 truck drivers contributing to that total.
To equip CODE 14 truck drivers with the best driving skills, Innovative Staffing Solutions’ sister company Innovative Learning Solutions provides a basic to advance training programme, where drivers are taught on safety and the appropriate maintenance of a truck.
“Innovative Staffing Solutions cannot take the risk of incurring damage to people or personal and public property. Our drivers are expected to act responsibly, safely and professional at all times. After all, they are responsible for ensuring valuable vehicles and their cargo get from one destination to the next safely. We need to be more responsible in the transport industry and one of the methods we can use to minimise accidents on the roads, is through effective drug and alcohol testing of every truck driver,” concludes Maré.