Plant body calls for action to tackle ‘widespread problem’ of drug and alcohol misuse

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TRADE body the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has called for tougher action within the industry to tackle drug and alcohol misuse amongst plant operators.

The organisation said the time has come for the sector to work together to tackle the ‘widespread problem’ of operators failing drug and alcohol tests without any impact on their competence cards.

The SPOA explained that, currently, the only potential penalties faced by operators who fail such tests are a ban from that particular job site or dismissal by their employer.

While operators are not allowed to work that day, there is no long-term sanction and they are free to apply to work for a new employer or be sent to work on a different site.

The SPOA wants to see a system similar to that operated by the rail industry where card holders have their cards either temporarily suspended or permanently revoked.

Following a meeting where the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS) and the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) gave their support for the proposal, SPOA has now sent a letter to all stakeholders asking them to come together to support the initiative.

Callum Mackintosh, vice president of the SPOA, said, “For too long we have turned a blind eye to the failure of our industry to tackle the prevalence of failed drug and alcohol tests. This failure substantially increases the risk of accidents or death on site for the operator and those working around them. Construction projects across the UK require plant operators to hold NPORS or CPCS cards. The fact that you can still retain your card and continue to operate plant after failing an on-site drug and alcohol test makes a mockery of both our system and our industry. I can’t think of any other sector where this is allowed to happen. It is time for change.

“While we recognise that there may be other issues facing those in the industry who turn to drugs or alcohol, and we aim to support them wherever we can, this is ultimately about making the industry safer and more professional. By working collectively, we can ensure this happens.”

Over the course of the next few months, the SPOA revealed it will continue to engage with members and all relevant stakeholders to agree how this change can be implemented as soon as is practical. Plant owners and operators can get in touch with SPOA to discuss any ideas, questions or concerns by emailing