Report: More NZers working on drugs

  • 09/03/2013

New figures reveal more New Zealanders were caught with drugs in their system at work last year.

It's prompted the father of a British man killed in a skydiving accident two years ago to claim New Zealand has a serious drug problem that's threatening to derail the country's reputation as the adventure capital of the world.

Chris Coker treasures one of the last photographs taken of him and his son.

“We have plenty of moments where it's like an axe in your heart and it doesn't go away,” he says. “It's an utter living hell.”

Bradley Coker was one of nine people killed in a plane crash in Fox Glacier in 2010.

It's a tragedy Mr Coker says might have been avoided if random drug testing was compulsory in industries like adventure tourism.

Two skydiving instructors on board smoked cannabis in the hours before the flight. The pilot of the Carterton ballooning tragedy also had the drug in his system.

“Surely if those guys had been on the ball, then they would've been looking at what was going on around them and been much more aware of the circumstances,” says Mr Coker.

Mr Coker's comments come as new figures from the New Zealand Drug Detection Agency reveal 4300 people tested positive for drugs at work last year.

“We collect the specimen in this jar here,” says the organisation’s chief executive, Chris Hilson. “This window here will indicate the presence of drug types.”

More than 70 percent of the positive drug tests nationally were for cannabis, and in Gisborne a whopping 94 percent. In contrast, in Otago 41 percent, and in Southland 32 percent, of positive tests were for opiates, which include the likes of heroin, morphine and codeine.

When it comes to industries, oil and gas had an 18 percent drop in positive tests for methamphetamine, but showed a marked increase in the use of opiates.

“That is so, so disappointing,” says Mr Coker. “Does what happened at Fox Glacier and the balloon crash, does that all count for nothing?”

The New Zealand Drug Detection Agency says employers are doing a better job of self-regulating. The agency performed almost 70,000 tests last year, 30 percent more than in 2011.

Smith and Davies managing director Graham McKinnon says 10 percent of his construction workforce is randomly drug tested every month.

“First thing, it makes all the other employees feel safe,” says Mr McKinnon. “They know all the other workers that come onto site with them are clean. There are no issues.”

And that's an attitude the grieving father says needs to be adopted in all New Zealand work places.

Mr Coker has set up a website warning people to think twice about visiting New Zealand.

3 News

source: newshub archive


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