Prevalence of drug abuse among workers: Strengths and pitfalls of the recent Italian Workplace Drug Testing (WDT) legislation

  • Kazanga I
  • Tameni S
  • Piccinotti A
 et al. 
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Abstract

Background: In 2008 a Workplace Drug Testing (WDT) law became effective in Italy for workers involved in public/private transportation, oil/gas companies, and explosives/fireworks industry with the aim to ensure public safety for the community. Aims: To examine and elaborate WDT data collected on a large group of workers (over 43,500) during March 2009-February 2010 in order to highlight pros and cons and to draw suggestions for policies in the field. Setting: Northern Italy. Methods: After ≤24. h notification, workers provided a urine sample screened for opiates, methadone, buprenorphine, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, and cannabinoids (THC) by immunoassay. Positives were confirmed by GC-MS. Results: The positive rate was 2.0%, THC being most frequent drug (1.3%; cocaine, 0.4%; opioids, 0.3%). 6.9% of the positive workers tested positive for ≥2 classes (most often THC. +. cocaine). Gender ratio and mean age were significantly lower in positives (F/M = 0.007; 35.5 ± 8.3. years) than negatives (0.016 and 40.7 ± 9.5, respectively). No decline in rates of positives and an increase of diluted samples over time were observed. The highest rates of positives were detected when sampling was performed just before/after week-end and during morning hours. Possible correlation between job type and drugs used were observed (e.g. more cocaine positives among road vehicle-drivers than among lift truck-drivers). Declared use of medicine/illicit drugs during the preceding week showed that illicit drug use was likely not always detected in urine and that almost 4% workers declared use of medicine drugs possibly affecting performance. Conclusions: This survey enabled to evidence relevant pitfalls of the law and to define strategies to improve the outcomes of WDT policies. © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Drugs of abuse
  • Public safety
  • Urine testing
  • Workplace Drug Testing

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Authors

  • Isabel Kazanga

  • Silvia Tameni

  • Alberto Piccinotti

  • Ivan Floris

  • Gabriele Zanchetti

  • Aldo Polettini

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