Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Employee drug and alcohol testing at civil nuclear facilities in the UK

Information requested

Please could you send specifically:

  1. Documentation of what ONR requires in terms of testing.
  2. Statistics, correspondence or other reports returned to ONR by facilities/contractors etc, relating to how many employees have failed tests, at which facilities, for what substances (legal or illegal) and what action was taken.

    The most recent official documentation I can find on this matter in the public domain is the 2008-9 report on the state of security in the civil nuclear industry, which states that a "stronger line" on drug use is to be taken.
  3. Any documentation assessing the effectiveness of that "stronger line"?

Information released

ONR expects Licensees, as part of the Licensee's health and safety arrangements, to have management arrangements covering fitness for duty; including drugs and alcohol. However, there are no legal requirements from the safety perspective, and failed drug and alcohol tests do not meet ONR's mandated reporting criteria.

Answer 1

Since August 2011, operators at UK civil nuclear sites have been required to notify the Regulator of any positive tests for drugs or alcohol involving employees or contractors who hold national security vetting clearances. This policy represents a 'stronger line' than hitherto.

The tests for misuse of drugs and alcohol are delivered and overseen by civil nuclear operators.

Answer 2

Following receipt of a report which suggests an individual has tested positive for the illicit use of drugs or alcohol, ONR (as the Vetting Authority), takes a decision on whether or not to withdraw relevant vetting clearances.

Correspondence between operators and the Regulator on the nature of an individual's misuse of illicit drugs, alcohol or other illegal substances is sensitive and can be subject to the constraints of medical confidentiality, so would be withheld using the exemption in Section 40 (Personal information) FOIA.

ONR deals with these issues on a case-by-case basis and does not collate statistics which indicate rates (or the nature) of positive tests at each UK civil nuclear site.

Answer 3

There is no documentation assessing the effectiveness of this 'stronger line'.

Exemptions applied

Section 40 - Personal information

PIT (Public Interest Test) if applicable

Not required