A very important reason to test, that is very acceptable and used within numerous industries within the Canadian drug testing landscape, is that of Reasonable Suspicion testing. Reasonable suspicion testing is done when there is a concern that someone is working while impaired. This is obviously a huge safety concern for any employer, and the procedure should be dealt with appropriately. This procedure should be very clearly defined within the policy, so that the testing is legally defensible, and every employee knows exactly how it works and the consequences.

The supervisors who are involved in the possibility of such testing must be trained to not only recognize the signs of impairment from various drugs and/or alcohol but also to recognize any paraphernalia or changes in behaviour that can happen over time. It is important to understand that within the Canadian workplace there is a requirement of accommodation of disability which can include substance abuse issues. However, also understanding that an addiction is something which must be brought forth to the employer to be discussed and certainly doesn’t make it okay to be impaired in the workplace.

This means that the training for the supervisors must include information about various drugs, what they look like, how they are used and what they do to people who are recreational users and who are long time users. This will give them the tools they need to be able to critically evaluate what they are seeing, not to jump to conclusions, but make logical analyses which can be documented and held up with facts. 

There are four steps to the Reasonable Suspicion Process:

Recognize – It is important that the supervisor becomes knowledgeable about the physical signs of drug/alcohol use, current drug trends, addiction information and behavioural warning signs.


Document – It is of utmost importance to document what is observed and communicated at every step of the Reasonable Suspicion Process. Documentation should include specific, clear examples of behaviour or situations which occurred within the workplace.


Confront – The confrontation always has to be planned out carefully to make sure that the employee being confronted is afforded privacy and treated with respect. Confrontation should ALWAYS be carried out with another person present. The documentation as well as the work policy should be the supervisor’s guide in speaking to the employee about what steps are to be taken next.


Ensure Safety – Ensuring safety is generally referred to as the final step in the process but really it is the fundamental and overarching priority throughout the entire reasonable suspicion process.


Lastly, a hugely important part of this process is making sure that it is supported by a very specific and well laid out Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy. This is something that each employee, upon being hired, must be required to read and sign off on. This policy creates total transparency as to the type of testing which occurs and the circumstances under which it occurs, AND the consequences for various outcomes.

If you would like to learn more about this process visit DATAC’s Supervisor Awareness Training program to arm your supervisor’s with all the knowledge they need.