Suriname implements strict drug policy for workplace safety

Suriname Port Management Company has taken the decision that, as of 2019, it will be compulsory for every employee to have an annual medical assessment and drug test.

2019, March 1: The port is a dynamic place to work and in every corner an accident awaits. Employees safety is therefore a vitally important aspect of port operations. All who come to work on any given day should survive their shift and leave safely  for home when their workday is ended.

Port management is about monitoring these operations through a set of regulations and procedures that guarantee safety. And athough ports invest heavily in automation, the human component is indispensable in the supply chain. This means that investment in human capital is very important in order to maintain or increase competitiveness within the port. But, while we are busy trying to guarantee smooth operations in the Port, we should acknowledge the possibility of breaches of safety regulations and procedures due to the physical and mental state of each employee on duty.

With this in mind, the Suriname Port Management Company has developed a drug policy to safeguard port operations. The objective is to ensure staff reliability and effective job performance and to identify and curtail the misuse of drugs by employees on the job.

Too often, the consequences of an ‘unfit’ employee on the job are either downplayed or overlooked, even when the ramifications are far-reaching. This policy is not confined to operations employees only but also to desk personnel. IN this regard, the port has entered into a partnership with the Suriname Bureau for Drugs and Alcohol (BAD). This organization specializes in providing professional help for detoxicating drug users.

Under the new drug policy at the Suriname port, all employees will be randomly tested. To set an example, the former Managing Director of the Port was the first to volunteer to do the drug test. Since then, it has also been port policy to include the drug test procedure in the application procedures for operations employees.

The SPMC’s drug policy is included in the Collective Labour Agreement and the Alcohol and Drug Policy Charter and it is monitored by the Human Resource and Social Worker. All employees, new or established, will receive a copy of this agreement so that all are aware of the policy and consequences if tested positive.

The Human Resource Department periodically does random drug tests. Testing for alcohol is also included in the testing. When testing started in 2014, seven workers returned positive readings. After following the prescribed programme they were tested ‘clean’. Four are still actively working in the Port and one is inactive because of illness. Two have since left the company.

Havenbeheer, Suriname

The SPMC lists the procedure as follows:

  • The Human Resources Department keeps an interim sample among the employees.
  • The selected employees are tested for use of alcohol and drugs.
  • If an employee has tested positive for the banned substances, the employee will be referred to the BAD where an expert examines the reason for the use and the person involved is counselled in the organization’s rehabilitation programme.
  • The Human Resources Department, in collaboration with the head of the department of the particular employee, monitors how the employee functions on the work floor in relation to progress in the rehabilitation programme of the BAD.
  • After the result of the follow-up tests are negative and remain negative, the supervision of BAD comes to an end.
  • The employee will receive a warning from the port company about drug use which states that, if repeated, disciplinary measures will follow.

As of 2019, it is compulsory that every employee of the Suriname Port Management Company will complete an annual medical assessment and drug test. []