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Drug test plans to be required in aviation and maritime sectors

11 February 2016

Random drug testing is to be required in the commercial aviation and maritime sectors.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss says by 2017 it will be mandatory for all commercial aviation and maritime operators to ahve drug and alcohol management plans, which must include random testing.

The plans will have to be approved by either the Civil Aviation Authority or Maritime New Zealand.

"The explicit requirement for drug and alcohol management plans will ensure every operator is managing the risks appropriately," Mr Foss says.

The Directors of Civil Aviation and Maritime New Zealand will also be given the power to authorise testing of safety sensitive staff.

The Ministry of Transport will explore the viability of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission being given the power to require alcohol and drug testing from survivors of an aviation, maritime or rail accident in the commercial and recreational sectors.

Each operator's drug and alcohol management plan will outline the employment relations processes that will happen if there is a positive test result.

The Ministry of Transport says that while the focus of the changes is on improving the safety culture through greater employer responsibility, some circumstances will be significant enough to justify the Civil Aviation Authority or Maritime New Zealand taking action against an individual or company. Depending on the circumstances, this could range from administrative sanctions, such as the removal of a maritime or aviation document, through to prosecution. 

The new requirements follow a review prompted by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission's report into the hot air balloon crash near Carterton in January 2012. They align with the new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 which comes into force on 4 April 2016.

Information provided by the Ministry of Transport says the Civil Aviation Act 1990 and the Maritime Transport Act 1994 will be amended and the changes should be in place by 2017.

The legislation will include explicit requirements for all commercial aviation and maritime operators to develop drug and alcohol management plans that include random alcohol and drug testing. The associated rules will set out what needs to be included in the plans.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019