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Cumbrian construction company sacks workers for failing drugs tests

A construction company has sacked three workers who failed drugs tests.

Keith Denham photo
Keith Denham

It is the first time that Workington firm Thomas Armstrong has taken such action in its 182-year history.

Management at the company yesterday said they are taking a zero-tolerance stance against drugs use.

The men fired worked for ACP (Concrete) Ltd on Lakes Road in Workington.

Several workers were found to have drugs in their systems following random tests in November which tested for cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine.

All were given counselling and the company waited a further 13 weeks before testing them again.

George Nevins, group security manager, said this was to give them a chance to clean up their act and to allow all trace of the original drugs to leave their system.

But three manual workers tested positive again in February and were dismissed after a disciplinary hearing yesterday.

Mr Nevins said: “The first test was in November when a number of random people were picked out.

“Some of those tests were positive and the company offered those individuals the support they needed to try to break their habits.

“We did inform them that they would be tested again some time in the future but this was not pre-arranged.”

Keith Denham, chief executive of Thomas Armstrong, stressed that the company had a zero tolerance to drugs.

He added: “We carry out manufacturing with machinery. It’s a dangerous operation and we have to have people in a role where nothing affects their performance. You can’t have people not fit for work.

“We have to run a safe operation and we can’t have people with habits like that.

“If you do that for a long time, eventually you are going to get caught. We can’t condone it.

“If there was an accident [because workers had taken drugs] we would be in serious trouble.

“We are shocked because they have lost their jobs but they had their final warning in January but continued to use the drugs.”

APC (Concrete) Ltd is a subsidiary of Thomas Armstrong

Mr Nevins stressed that drug-testing were a necessary part of most businesses now.

He said: “It’s not just Thomas Armstrong who test for drugs. Most companies and businesses do it. It’s a standard thing. The police do it. Sellafield do it.

“It’s a good measure to prevent people having accidents travelling to and from work and driving machinery.

“They [the workers] need to be fully fit and aware of what’s going on.”

Have your say

the arguement of the legaqlisation of cannabis isnt the point of this article, these workers where caught, then given another chance, and where caught again. there contract they signed into when joining the company will have witheld all this information about the companys policy's on drugs and if pre-decided that takinhg drugs outside of work can effect you within work (which it can, research drugs effecting mood, instead of physical and mental effects, cannabis included can effect your mood the next day) this can relate to lasyness eg someone in a bad mood might not feel motivaiton to work, this can lead to accidents which when the HSE research the accident, they might test certain individuals at the incident if they test positive the HSE will take action against both parties something a organsation such as armstrongs would suffer from

Posted by i am right on 20 March 2012 at 14:43

I was reading the other day about research being done into how cannabis can affect reaction times in long term users, along with other mental issues, does this sound like a substance that people should be using if they are responsible for machinery etc.?

Posted by Me again on 19 March 2012 at 08:31

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