Safe railways for Australia

Drug and Alcohol Testing


Requirements of Rail Transport Operators

Under the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL), a rail safety worker must not carry out or attempt to carry out rail safety work while there is any presence of alcohol or a ‘prescribed drug’ in their system.

To manage this and reduce the risks to workers and the general public, rail transport operators are required to have a Drug and Alcohol Management Program (DAMP) in place, which includes drug and alcohol testing of their workers. Guidance on the preparation of a DAMP, including a drug and alcohol testing regime, is included in the Safety Management System guideline.

Rail transport operators are also required to:

  • Immediately report Category A and other prescribed incidents and conduct mandatory drug and alcohol testing at prescribed incidents, where ONRSR or the police have not tested
  • Report the results of testing to ONRSR
  • Provide monthly drug and alcohol testing information to ONRSR

Further guidance on these requirements is in the Drug and Alcohol: Requirements of Rail Transport Operators fact sheet and available on the Notifiable Occurrences webpage.

Requirements of Rail Transport Operators in NSW

All drug and alcohol testing carried out by operators in NSW must be conducted by an authorised person appointed under the RSNL who holds an identity card issued by ONRSR.

Other drug and alcohol management requirements applying specifically to rail operations in NSW include:

  • Annual random testing of at least 25% of rail safety workers (commercial operators only)
  • Mandatory post-incident testing following a NSW prescribed incident
  • Additional reporting of certain events

Further guidance on these requirements is in the Drug and Alcohol: Requirements of Rail Transport Operators (NSW Only) fact sheet. Links to forms for appointing an authorised person and reporting in NSW are at the bottom of this page.

ONRSR’s Testing program

In addition to the programs put in place by operators, ONRSR undertakes:

  • Programmed testing includes intelligence-led risk-based testing and random testing.
  • Post-incident testing is undertaken in response to Category A and other prescribed incidents.

The ONRSR drug and alcohol testing program, which was established in accordance with the Rail Safety National Law, aims to:

  • Improve the safety of rail by deterring the use of drugs and alcohol by workers.
  • Monitor compliance with the RSNL.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of a rail transport operator’s DAMP.

ONRSR has appointed AusHealth Work to undertake drug and alcohol testing on its behalf. AusHealth Work testers are appointed as authorised persons and carry an ONRSR-issued identity card.

Further guidance on ONRSR’s testing program is available from the ONRSR Drug and Alcohol Testing policy and the Drug and Alcohol: ONRSR’s Testing Program fact sheet.

Requirements of Rail Safety Workers

Rail safety workers also have specific duties for drug and alcohol management and may be subject to disciplinary actions by the operator and/or penalties for not complying with the testing requirements of a rail transport operator or an Authorised Person (i.e. ONRSR).

Offences for not complying with the directions of an authorised person include:

  • the presence of alcohol in the rail safety worker’s blood, or a prescribed drug (cannabis, methamphetamine/ ‘speed’ or MDMA/ ‘ecstasy’) in their oral fluid or blood
  • being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • refusing a test
  • not following the direction of an authorised person
  • interfering or tampering with a sample
  • hindering or obstructing an authorised person

The maximum penalty is $10,000.

There is an additional offence for intimidating, threatening or assaulting an authorised person, which carries a penalty of $50,000 or two years imprisonment (or both).

Rail safety workers in NSW may face additional penalties (refer to ONRSR’s Drugs and Alcohol: Requirements for Rail Transport Operators (NSW Only) fact sheet.

Further guidance is available from the Duties of Rail Safety Workers fact sheet.

Forms (NSW only)

Training material (NSW only)

Last updated: 28 June 2019