Sydney, March 24 : The rate of drug use in Australian workforce has more than doubled over the past decade, with one in eight persons testing positive to drugs at work these days, suggest new statistics.
The figures show that over five per cent of employees who do drugs are those people who are engaged in high-risk jobs.
Cannabis abuse accounts for over 90 per cent of the cases, according to the report.
Experts have warned that the number of positive tests is likely to rise to a quarter of employees in some industries.
Australia's largest drug testing organisation Medvet laboratories, which conducts 100,000 alcohol and drug tests a year, has demanded that the Federal and State Governments enact laws for compulsory drug testing with urine samples in high-risk industries, something that has been scoffed at by unions.
"They do it for sports, so why not do it for workplaces - there is a much bigger problem in the wider community," news.com.au quoted Medvet spokesman Steve Korkoneas as saying.
The news report also suggests that conducting regular drug tests was being followed as a trend at only eight per cent of workplaces in Australia, as compared to 80 per cent in the US.
"It's a huge concern in the workplace but a lot of employers are now having a urine drug and alcohol testing program," Korkoneas said.
"At any given time, the positive drug rate using urine testing is 13 to 15 per cent. It could be extremely higher if more tests were conducted," he added.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), however, says that compulsory tests will be nothing less than an invasion of privacy.
"There should not be open slather testing of employees or whenever they feel like it," said Geoff Fary, Assistant Secretary, ACTU.
A spokesman for Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca said that setting a trend of regular drugs tests for people employed in safety-critical roles like bus, ferry and train drivers would be an appropriate step.
"In other industries, there is nothing to stop the establishment of a voluntary workplace drug testing policy," he said.