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Highs and lows on SH2

Half a dozen roadworkers on the SH2 safety improvements project between Masterton and Carterton were stood down last week after failing a routine random drug test.

A source who alerted the Times-Age to the incident said work was delayed because so many subcontractors failed the drug test that the whole night shift crew was stood down from work for two nights in a row.

However, Waka Kotahi NZTA regional manager Jetesh Bhula said yesterday that – although six subcontractor employees had been stood down for testing positive for drugs last week – the episode had not caused any delays to the SH2 roadworks.

The source said that a crew of contractors arrived for a night shift last week only to be told to stand by for several hours before being sent home.

They said the crew was sent home because they could not do their assigned job after so many road crew members failed the routine drug tests.

The source said another routine drug test was carried out the next night, and the same thing happened, with several sub-contractors failing and the whole crew being sent home, causing their work to be delayed for a second night.

Bhula, however, was emphatic this was not the case: “No time has been lost on the project due to this incident, and the works have not been delayed.”

Bhula said that all Waka Kotahi contractors need policies to manage the risks of worker impairment from drug and alcohol use.

“Because of the work involved and the heavy machinery being used, it [drug use] is an unacceptable health and safety risk,” he said.

The Times-Age asked Waka Kotahi what drug testing method the contractor used, what type of drugs were detected, and whether or not sub-contractor drug use had been an ongoing issue on site.

But Bhula said Waka Kotahi could not comment further because it was an employment matter between the affected workers and their employers.

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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