Wednesday, October 17, 2007

BC FERRIES NEEDS TO TEST FOR CANNABIS USE


MANDATORY DRUG AND ALCOHOL

TESTING NEEDED

- CEO David Hahn welcomes TSB statement

and calls for follow up -

BC Ferries President and CEO David L. Hahn issued a statement today in response to a Transportation Board Safety Board (TSB) communiqué regarding potential cannabis use by northern BC Ferries crew members. The TSB issued a notice as part of its investigation into the sinking of the Queen of the North on March 22, 2006.

TSB reported that, “in the course of its investigation into the sinking of the Queen of the North, the TSB conducted extensive interviews and found that a number of crew members regularly smoked cannabis between shifts, both on board and off the vessel.” The TSB has no evidence that the performance of either the fourth officer or the quartermaster on the bridge was impaired. BC Ferries adds that no drug and alcohol tests were done on any crew members immediately following the incident.

Hahn stated that BC Ferries has had a drug and alcohol abuse policy in place since 1997 and a zero-tolerance policy for all crew members since 2005. In isolated incidents, where contravention of the policy has come to the attention of the company, employees have been terminated as a direct result.

The no tolerance live-aboard policy regarding the use of alcohol and drugs states: “Crew members are not permitted to consume nor have in their possession alcohol or any other mood-altering substance, which would render them unfit for duty. This prohibition is considered to include all hours on duty or off duty/watch, from the time an employee joins the ship until the release for rest days.”

Hahn stated that if cannabis was being used by any crew members of the Queen of the North, or any other vessel, it is a clear violation of the company’s zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy. He stated that BC Ferries has communicated this policy many times and in many different ways to all of its employees, including small group sessions with each employee who works on the northern vessels.

“The safety of the travelling public is paramount” stated Hahn. He urged the Transportation Safety Board to recommend to the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Federal Minister of Transport, that all ferry operators in Canada be given powers to conduct mandatory drug and alcohol testing on all employees in safety sensitive positions.

Hahn suggested that drug and alcohol testing are both mandatory and random in the U.S. transportation industry and, given the TSB’s conclusions, similar legislation needs to be adopted here in Canada as well. He said management can create and enforce tough zero-tolerance policies, but mandatory and random drug and alcohol testing is the only proven method of ensuring protection for the travelling public.

In conclusion, Hahn stated that the company will be conducting further investigations into the TSB findings.


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