UPDATED WEDNESDAY: Carriageway resurfacing work across the Island was suspended yesterday (Monday) after several Island Roads employees were summoned to undergo an unannounced drugs test, Island Echo can exclusively reveal.
Selected members of the Island-wide workforce were called to the PFI contractor’s HQ at Daish Way in Newport early yesterday morning, where a surprise drugs test was carried out on the employees, with consent, as per the company’s policy.
Due to the checks, the Island Roads workforce was left short numbered and therefore unable to continue or start planned resurfacing works at very short notice, leaving many Islanders wondering what was going on and with roads half-done.
In Bembridge, work was suspended on Common Wood Lane despite the company originally saying that the works were due to go ahead. At 07:00 it was said via Twitter that the road would be closed, however just an hour and twenty minutes later a complete U-turn was announced saying the work had been cancelled for the day, however no reason was given. The same was true for Rectory Drive in Niton.
Work was due to commence at Spring Hill in Ventnor, however readers have reported that work did not begin as advertised and no work has been started today either.
Resurfacing work did resume at North Road/High Street in Shanklin overnight, however it has been announced this afternoon that the work has been cancelled for this evening.
Island Echo approached Island Roads for a statement yesterday evening. A spokesperson has today said:
“As is commonplace in the highways industry, Island Roads occasionally carries out routine drug and alcohol testing of employees working in safety critical roles. These policies are in place to protect both employees and members of the public.
“Some aspects of work may need to be temporarily suspended while these checks are undertaken but work recommences as soon as possible”.
UPDATE @ 18:50 – Within four minutes of this article being published, Island Roads issued the following statement:
“We can confirm that no members of staff were dismissed yesterday as a result of the routine checks that took place and as you can appreciate, we would not discuss individual cases in detail.”
UPDATE WEDNESDAY @ 17:10 – Following an investigation into the cancellation of the road resurfacing by Island Echo with several questions put to Island Roads, a Eurovia spokesperson has this evening issued a statement regarding the outcome of the drugs test and has confirmed that work was suspended as a result of the tests on employees.
“As part of our commitment to Health & Safety and the protection of our employees and the public, Eurovia, as is standard across the Highways & Construction industry, carries out random drug and alcohol testing.
“Earlier this week the Eurovia Surfacing crews, working on behalf of PFI contractor Island Roads, underwent one of these tests. Any staff member found with alcohol or illegal drugs in their system following these tests are subject to disciplinary procedures, which can result in termination of their employment.
“These tests are very sensitive and regularly detect other legal substances – including over-the-counter painkillers and cold remedies. When this happens the employee is asked to remain at home whilst a more extensive laboratory test is carried out. We are delighted to say that all but one of these employees passed the tests. However one employee’s test result was non-negative which we suspect may be due to prescribed medication they are taking and therefore we are carrying out additional laboratory tests to verify.
“We appreciate this resulted in some re-surfacing work being halted for the day, for which we apologise, but hope the public will appreciate our reasons for removing these crews and any potential risk, whilst we carried out these investigations.”
Eurovia work crews originate from the mainland and have been working on the Island to assist Island Roads with the resurfacing scheme on a number of carriageways.
Due to the suspension of work earlier this week, the timetable of works appears to have been effected and dates for many planned resurfacing works have changed slightly.