Federal court approves random testing at nuclear facilities

Jun 30, 2023

On June 6, 2023, the Federal Court endorsed the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s move to require pre-placement and random alcohol and drug testing of workers in safety-critical positions at high-security nuclear facilities, as mandated by CNSC regulatory document REGDOC-2.2.4, Fitness for Duty, Volume II: Managing Alcohol and Drug Use.

 

In 2021, following the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018, the CNSC provided new regulatory requirements for the pre-placement and random testing of workers in order to improve nuclear safety and security at high-security nuclear facilities.

According to a statement provided by CNSC, the new requirements were based on the results of extensive consultations with scientists and other experts, licensees of and workers at high-security nuclear sites, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and the public.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has received approval from the Federal Court to implement new rules for random substance testing in some workplaces.

Specifically, the court endorsed CNSC’s move to require pre-placement and random alcohol and drug testing of workers in safety-critical positions at high-security nuclear facilities.

“Fitness for duty is one factor that affects human performance. An important element of being fit for duty is being free from the influence of alcohol, legal or illicit drugs, or performance-altering medication while at work,” reads the statement.

“These requirements ensure that Canada is in line with the best international practices and can hold licensees to the highest possible safety standards for the operation of high-security nuclear facilities. The court ruling in favour of these requirements allows the CNSC to act and operationalize the regulatory requirements.”

The newly approved rules include pre-placement alcohol and drug testing, as well as random alcohol and drug testing. “As job applicants are not workers, a substance test should not be used as a screening tool and should only be administered once a candidate has met all other qualifications necessary,” states the regulatory document guidance for pre-placement testing on the CNSC website. In addition, the regulatory document states that licensees should refer to the Alcohol Test Committee when establishing procedures for the administration of evidential breath alcohol testing.