Oil giant BP has drug tested hundreds of its workers after a syringe was found at an offshore oil rig.

The needle was discovered on a flotel – floating accommodation for offshore workers – next to an oil platform in the North Sea. The find led worried bosses to order drug testing of its staff in a bid to find out whether any had been misusing illegal substances.

The drug testing is in line with the company’s zero tolerance approach to substance abuse.

A BP spokesman said: “There are, of course, a number of medical reasons why a syringe may be required by personnel. In line with our zero tolerance policy for substance misuse, we have chosen to the take the precautionary step of testing all those onboard.

“BP is a responsible operator and we place the utmost importance on ensuring the safety of all those who work on our platforms, therefore we feel this is an appropriate response.”

The syringe was discovered on April 15 on board the Safe Caledonia flotel, which is next to the Etap platform. A team was sent out to the rig the day after the needle was found and testing was carried out on a total of 447 people working on the platform and flotel.

Two workers had inconclusive results

As a result of the tests, two people are undergoing further examination after the results of their urine tests were found to be inconclusive. The workers have been flown back to shore so more tests can be carried out.

Drug testing is an effective way for companies to monitor potential substance misuse among its staff. AlphaBiolabs specialises in providing drug and alcohol testing to the oil and gas industry to protect staff working in a risky offshore environment.

If employees on oil rigs abuse drugs or alcohol they are more likely to make a mistake or become involved in a dangerous accident. Employers could also face legal action if it was found they had not taken steps to ensure a safe and drug-free working environment.

Businesses like BP may order tests when they have reason to suspect drugs may have been used by staff as part of an investigation. This type of testing is known as for cause screening.

Some employers also choose to use random testing and studies have shown this is effective in reducing the number of workplace accidents. Drug testing can also be incorporated into the recruitment process with pre-employment screening.