Research report summaries 2017–2018

Contractors' reports are only available in the language in which they are submitted to the CNSC.

RSP-673.1, State of Policies and Practices on Substance Use in Safety-sensitive Industries in Canada

In April 2012, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) published a discussion paper titled DIS-12-03, Fitness for Duty: Proposals for Strengthening Alcohol and Drug Policy, Programs and Testing. This was followed by a draft version of a regulatory document that was presented at a CNSC Commission meeting on August 17, 2017, and published as REGDOC-2.2.4, Fitness for Duty, Volume II: Managing Alcohol and Drug Use on November 9, 2017.

REGDOC-2.2.4, Fitness for Duty, Volume II sets out requirements and guidance for managing the fitness for duty of workers in relation to alcohol and drug use and abuse and includes some provisions for alcohol and drug testing under various testing circumstances. For example, workers identified as substance-dependent are required to submit to follow-up alcohol and drug testing, and must be deemed fit by a duly qualified health professional before returning to safety-sensitive duties.

Health professionals have various certifications available to them to perform evaluations on and tailor treatment programs for substance dependent workers. However, there is no national-level certification relevant to the workplace, particularly for safety-sensitive industries.

Based on comments received from stakeholders during public consultation on draft REGDOC-2.2.4, Fitness for Duty, CNSC staff identified a need to strengthen the practice of substance dependence evaluation in the context of Canadian safety-sensitive workplaces. To that end, the CNSC engaged the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) to increase understanding of:

  • best practices in substance abuse evaluation
  • the regulatory framework in Canada that supports the decisions of substance abuse experts
  • the jurisprudence on the qualifications of ‘duly qualified health professionals’ that Canadian courts most readily accept as a substance abuse expert
  • the prevalence of substance use and abuse in communities where high security nuclear facilities are located

With the coming legalization of cannabis in Canada, CNSC staff also wanted to better understand the potential safety impact of medical and recreational marijuana use in safety-sensitive workplaces.

The CCSA developed and administered a survey to safety-sensitive industries across Canada and conducted a legal analysis on the qualifications of substance abuse experts most readily accepted by various Canadian courts. Prevalence data on substance use and abuse was taken from both federal and provincial survey data available from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Monitor. To increase understanding of the potential impact of medical and recreational marijuana use on workplace safety, data was also gleaned from the American states of Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been recently legalized. Additionally, a brief review of the literature was conducted to examine the evidence related to the impact and effectiveness of substance testing affecting the workplace.

Read the RSP-673.1-Final Report (PDF)

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