Failing a drugs test within your workplace has obvious repercussions for the employee, employer and the company reputation. But when your job is of a safety-critical nature, the consequences of drug taking can be catastrophic and potentially life-threatening to the public at large. Drug taking scandals this week centre on Trident submariners and rail workers.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is understood to have ordered all UK submarine crews to be tested for drugs. Nine sailors from a nuclear missile submarine have since been dismissed from the Royal Navy after testing positive for cocaine in the compulsory drugs tests. According to the Ministry of Defence, the submariners had been serving aboard HMS Vigilant, which carries the Trident nuclear deterrent. This forms one of Britain’s four Vanguard-class submarines, which carry up to eight Trident missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said that the organisation did not tolerate drugs misuse by service personnel, and said “Those found to have fallen short of our high standards face being discharged from service.”

Irish Rail is also in the spotlight after admitting that one in seven of its employees contracted to work on Ireland’s railways failed a drug test in the last year. Thankfully, these drug tests were pre-employment and therefore carried out before any work started.

The operator of the national railway network of Ireland, also known as Iarnród Éireann, is investigating the problem and is said to be concerned about the high rate of failure amongst its contractors. It is actively trying to find a solution and has established a group to look at strengthening its policies in relation to drugs and alcohol.

“If a contractor fails a drug test we will not allow the individual to work on our network,” said company spokesperson, Barry Kenny.

Irish Rail says it is looking at a number of options to combat the problem, which could include mandatory testing.

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