- By Region
Nearly 1m UK employees have illegal drugs in their system at any one time at work, with the number testing positive up by 43 per cent over the past five years, a study has found.
At least one in 30 workers had drugs in their system at any point within the workplace, equating to 940,000 people, the research found – a significant health, safety and financial risk.
The most common drugs were cannabis, opiates and cocaine, according to the report by Concateno, a drug and alcohol screening provider.
Men tested positively for drugs three times as often than women, and younger people tested positively more frequently than older ones, based on analysis of 1.6m workplace drug tests over the past five years.
However, 25-34 year-olds were more likely to test positive for class A drugs, rather than under-25s as many assumed. Class A drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines were more expensive, so having disposable income made them more affordable.
Cocaine use peaked in 2008 and dropped off in 2009 – coinciding with the recession – but has since increased again, Concateno said.
Overall, drug use was identified in 3.23 per cent of employees tested in 2011, up from 2.26 per cent in 2007. Concateno is the UK’s and Europe’s largest screening provider, measured by the number of tests.
The most common sectors with drug testing programmes include public transport, freight haulage, emergency services, utilities, retail, manufacturing and construction.
Concateno said companies with a drug testing programme were safety- and performance-conscious, so drug use tended to be lower than across the population.
The 2010-11 British crime survey identified 3m, or 8.8 per cent, of British adults who admitted to using an illicit drug in the past year, including the unemployed.