This topic contains 32 replies, has 27 voices, and was last updated by  Ih8people 2 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #4679

    Jen
    Participant

    A bag has been left at work unattended for four days in a room which we use for training/teaching/inductions. Its owner had not collected it after a training session and it had just been abandoned. I was alerted to it by the cleaner and took it into a room where two of my colleagues sat and asked them to witness me looking through the bag to identify the owner.

    There were various items in the bag like trainers, glasses and food and a bunch of house keys. On the key ring was a ID type of fob (cylinder shaped metal width of a bic pen) with a screw top. We assumed that it was like a dog tag type thing where you unscrew the top and find a piece of paper with the persons name and phone number on as we were going to ring them to collect the bag. I have one of these which I keep a spare set of prescription drugs in, in case I forget to take mine to work, but mine is much bigger to house prescription tablets in. When we opened it there was a small vial inside which contained a very small amount of white powder stuck to the sides. We now think that the substance contained cocaine.

    Not long after this search took place the owner of the bag appeared. I handed the bag over but I asked him his name and who he worked for which he told me, but then questioned why I wanted to know. I just said I was curious as we had not made a decision on what we were going to do about it and I was caught on the hop. Again he asked me why I wanted to know and again I repeated that I was curious as he’d left the bag for so long, so he is obviously worried that we have caught him out. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to photograph this vial so have no proof other than the word of myself and my two colleagues that witnessed it.

    We have alerted the person in charge of our company and they are going to speak to the person who manages this person (another company) about it tomorrow. We run a vigorous drug and alcohol policy and have zero tolerance in respect of leisure drugs and alcohol on our premises.

    What I would like to know is if we call in the drug and alcohol company who are trained to deal with carrying out drug tests of people (which we really need to do today) what are the legal ramifications of searching through his bag in the first place.Could this come back to bite us on the foot? It would be very dangerous given the type of work this contractor does to allow him to continue to work if he is under the influence of drugs.

  • #4680

    sally
    Participant

    Surely this is a question for your company lawyer and not an Internet forum?
    Was is your company policy on disclosing this type of information on the internet?

    • #4681

      Jen
      Participant

      We are not the kind of organisation that has a link to a company lawyer. It would be a decision at site level anyway.

      How on earth could what I disclosed on this forum be linked to the company/organization I work for/the type of work carried out/the location of the workplace/the employer/employee/my name. You could say that about almost any of the work related posts that are on this forum, of which there are probably hundreds? People are always posting on here about work issues! You have probably done so before now.

      Ok so perhaps I should have just put ‘what are the legal ramifications of searching through an abandoned bag at work’ and left it at that but I know that had I not gone into the detail that I did I would have got about ten questions asking me for more info and wouldn’t be any further forwards than I am now.

      Just wanted to be clear before we form an action plan.

      • #4705

        Luke
        Participant

        And there’s a strict drug and alcohol policy but no company lawyer?

  • #4682

    torieboy
    Participant

    I’m confused… so this person doesn’t even work for your company, but you told their boss?

    Why do you need to form an action plan?

    I think you’d be very surprised at the amount of people who do a bit of recreational coke, if that’s what it even was.

    • #4687

      Jen
      Participant

      They are subcontracted to us, work on our premises and do work which is of a very dangerous nature if they are impaired. We have every right to tell their bosses. Recreational coke is fine as long as they are not impaired doing their job, and having a drug test would tell us that. We are within our right to escort them off the premises if the test showed it in their system in enough quantity, such is the nature of the job they do.

      • #4689

        ratface
        Participant

        IF they are impaired, totally understandable. But so far you’ve seen or heard nothing to suggest that he is, yet you’ve now told his boss you found coke in his bag and are forming an action plan?

  • #4683

    scats
    Participant

    Why do you think the substance was cocaine?

  • #4684

    stew
    Participant

    You absolutely need legal advice. Your organisation must surely have access to a lawyer.

  • #4685

    Ali
    Participant

    What he gets up to in his spare time is not your company’s business.

    I would say that the immediate action is “case closed, do nothing”. The powder could be talc that was put on the capsule threads to stop them from binding, could be from a couple of paracetamol or aspirin tablets that he had kept in there, or could be traces of Monatomic Gold (Ormus).

    If your company has a strict “no drugs, including alcohol, on work premises”, then that policy must be communicated to people before they turn up. And if you have a policy, you need to know how to enforce it, so you need to know if you can legally search people’s bags when they arrive on-site, or ask for permission to search and turn away anybody who refuses to comply.

    In fact, the above is true for every policy: publish and enforce.

    If the job or the site is such that drowsiness and lack of coordination poses a serious safety risk, then it needs to be clearly stated in the policies, too: that failure to arrive in a fit state, whether through lack of sleep or prescription medication, not just recreational drugs, is grounds for being refused access to the site.

    You need an “abandoned items” policy that is communicated to people.

    Check the room straight after the end of a session; if any belongings are found after everybody has left, send out an email or SMS (because you have contact details for everybody who comes on-site, right?) stating that the object would be kept for 24 hours before being taken down to the police station, unless the owner gets in touch. Of course, you could get somebody who gets a taxi or a train to the airport, and can’t get back within 24 hours, so your policy needs to have some room for manoeuvre.

    • #4686

      Jen
      Participant

      The drug and alcohol policy is communicated to them. This is also communicated to them prior to their visit and gone over with their employer also. We have over 1800 people on site so I couldn’t send out text messages. The small vial inside the key fob is actually about 4mm in diameter so no prescription tablets would fit in there. thanks

    • #4690

      lucy
      Participant

      Very well said.

      I think you have blown this waaaaaay out of proportion! If the policy is that strict and imperative, why are you not doing random sample drug tests on your work force already?

      You had a right to look in his bag for ID but I think that unscrewing and opening things (apart from a wallet for example) is not acceptable. He has every right to have whatever he wants in his personal items, it might be a key ring he took to Ibiza 4 years before he started working for the company that once had coke in it but he kept as a keepsake, it might be his friends, it might be a powder that adds weight, or stops it from going rusty.

      I carried around my nans old small perfume vial in my handbag for years, where the contents did eventually turn to powder due to age, and I could have lost my job had someone assumed it was cocaine. It’s a very serious allegation when you have little evidence apart from a powder that could have 1000 other explanations.

  • #4688

    dingbat
    Participant

    I believe that looking inside the bag in order to identifying the owner was acceptable. I believe opening the container in question was acceptable as you believed it contained an address.

    I believe that as soon as you saw that the container did not contain an address you should have closed it again. I believe sharing the information as to what was in the bag, other than a name and address, was wrong. I don’t believe it was for you to speculate or to share with others. I also would not have put such a matter, that could lose someone their job, or indeed cause you to be challenged, on an internet forum.

    Surely if you have a drugs/alcohol policy and the man looks impaired then you would just have given a drugs test?

    I really don’t think the contents of his personal bag is any of your business.

  • #4691

    jessy
    Participant

    I think it’s completely reasonable to look through an abandoned bag for reasons of security and to try and identify the owner. However it seems a bit OTT to report someone for possible drugs when you’re not sure they were drugs and haven’t any proof. What exactly would you expect the person’s boss to do with the information? You could be making yourselves look like total fools reporting this.

    • #4694

      Jen
      Participant

      That’s fine. We have a company who is subcontracted to us who comes out and does random tests. They are meant to come on a regular basis and are due another visit. They on occassion find people throughout our organization who are subcontracted to us that show positive for a drug test and they are asked to leave immediately and are not allowed to work through our company again. Its simple. The rules are there and the companies subcontracted to us know this and are happy to supply people to us under this ruling and back us if we find their operatives with no prescriptive drugs or alcohol in their system. If people chose to break them then they will lose their jobs. We can’t have people carrying out the type of work they do on site that are impaired by drugs or alcohol that are in their system. It increases the risk of accidents. If we suspect they are we are quite within our rights to call in the drug testing company and get the people checked. If they decline they are red carded and asked to leave. Simple. It is for their own safety as well as the safety of the rest of the workforce.

      • #4697

        kelly
        Participant

        If you have random drugs testing as part of the conditions of service then the answer is simple, do a ‘random’ drugs test. What I would not do is tell anyone, apart from your own supervisor (so the test can be organised). I especially would not tell an internet forum, I do believe if someone wanted to, that you could be identified. From you the workplace could easily be identified.

        • #4698

          logi
          Participant

          It would be a serious disiplinary action if anyone did this where I work. I know someone who knows the OP in real life. I have no intention of doing so, but it would take me 30 seconds to find out her employer.

          I had an incident where things I had posted here and on social media were copied and sent to my work. I had never done anything but refer to the company positively though so the case was closed with no action required. It will still pretty stressful for me and if I had been found to do anything to show the company in a negative light I would have been dismissed, never mind disclosing information like this!

  • #4692

    nev
    Participant

    Hmmm….. well this is an interesting moral / legal conumdrum! In a previous life, if a bag had been left unclaimed in my immediate surroundings I’d have blown it up!! Or staged a full ordnance disposal exercise – though it might seem to be blowing my own trumpet to some on here – my squad actually did this once for real ( when others ignored it ) and it earned us an amazing amount of Brownie points.

    Why did you leave it for ( how many days? Four was it???) oh dear, you’ve all been blown to bits by the terrorists. This also something EVERYONE should be aware of when poking about in unclaimed baggage – let alone unknown substances in small vials which you opened!!! Mein Gott! I do hope you didn’t emulate Hollywood movies – and TASTE some!!! Ester – come on girl – give us a list of poisonous white powders!

    On the otherhand, it seems that you had the best intentions and went about it ( witnessed ) the right way but all the tale telling and posting on here is open to debate – it first depends on you, whether you want to be a company person beyond anything else ( many on here will call you a grass ) it could advance you but it might not – it could even backfire.

  • #4693

    ester
    Participant

    If it was in NI there would be no issue, cause the police would have been doing it with the bomb squad. But if bags are left or whatever in genuine circumstances, generally it would go to a safe place and a memo sent out to say it was found/left in such a place. I do believe in our policies however there is a thing to say that the management reserve to right to search any bags at any time if there is suspicion of illegal activities.

  • #4695

    carlson
    Participant

    Hmmm, difficult…

    I also work at a company with a strict drugs and alcohol policy with random (or maybe not so random) drugs tests. From a health and safety pov there is a good reason for the policy so testing positive is pretty much guaranteed dismissal. And for similar reasons, I would probably be disciplined if I knew someone was under the influence and didn’t report it.

    However, you don’t know that he had drugs in his system. You don’t even know if it was drugs in his key fob. So if it was me I would’ve either said nothing and pretended I hadn’t seen it, or asked him straight why he had a drug stash key fob, depending on how well I knew him

    I definitely wouldn’t be telling his boss though – his contract to his own boss is nothing to do with you. Your only duty is to the company that you work for.

  • #4696

    Crud
    Participant

    I can sort of understand your concerns OP, but surely if there are 1000+ people on site, you should have access to proper advice, rather than posting on an internet forum? Or surely your company could point you in the right direction?

  • #4699

    don
    Participant

    Whilst I agree with what has been said about not posting anything online which can identify you or your employer, I am astounded at the number of people who think that it would be acceptable for someone to be at work with illegal drugs in their system (not necessarily overtly affecting their behaviour), or to take illegal drugs into work in their belongings. I can only surmise that those people do not have responsible jobs.
    OP, I would talk to your line manager/HR about the incident and leave matters in their hands.

  • #4700

    mike
    Participant

    But despite being asked the OP has not said why they thought it was cocaine?!

    • #4701

      EmmaS
      Participant

      Maybe, in the name of research, she rolled up a £20 note and snorted some of it.

      • #4702

        mike
        Participant

        It would explain a lot

        • #4703

          Jen
          Participant

          Never touched leisure drugs in my life, never intend to, don’t even know what cannabis smells like and have no desire to do so, never even smoked a spliff. I was asking a simple question which most people do on this forum when its work related. In fact there have been an awful lot of posts in The Club house in a typical WWYD type of question which are work related.

          If people are vindictive enough to want to ‘trace me’ or other people on this forum that is there prerogative, and says a lot about them and the type of person they are. I was just doing my job and have been praised this morning by management and the boss of the person concerned for doing so. Safety on site is everyone’s concern and in my particular role this is especially true of me.

          Thanks for the advice folks…that’s all.

  • #4704

    ted
    Participant

    Surely if someone finds a powder that they suspect is drugs they should call the police straight away?
    Some valid alternatives to drugs given in some ofthe posts. But even if it was drugs, if the bag was not in the owner’s possession for 4 days then there would be no evidence that the owner had put the drugs there and they could easily claim that someone had planted the drugs to incriminate them (e.g. a work colleague at the same event, or one of the people in the company where it was left), especially if they had had a run in with someone over a work issue.

  • #4706

    doormat
    Participant

    Eek, how embarrassing for the person who left their bag behind!
    I think it’s all right to look through bags when they have been left behind for a long time.
    You even had two colleagues next to you. Also, these days there is a general fear of explosives in abandoned bags.
    The airport also removes items left behind and then destroys them!
    I wouldn’t worry.

  • #4707

    SAFFY
    Participant

    I think OP is completly out of order.
    They found a tiny amount of a substance that they decided, with no testing, was drugs aand then blabbed all over this forum about it.

    Whilst I agree that anyone whos ability to work safely appears to be comprimised should be held to account, this was not the case. It is quite possible that the substance found belonged to a diabetic and was a sugar replacement or something just as innocent. Yet the OP stuck their nose in and told this persons manager that they had drugs in their possesion. Outrageous!
    Any concerns should have been reported to a manager.

    I know a lot of highly educated people who use recreational drugs and still attened work and perform to the highest standards.

    If I was the OP’s manager I would be looking at dicsaplinary action against the OP.

  • #4708

    Duck
    Participant

    Did nobody read/hear about the man in his 50s who was asked to participate in a routine random drugs test before he went onto a site to represent his company? He failed the test and was asked to leave the site. His own company did further testing, which also proved positive for opioids and eventually the man lost his job. He insisted that the had never taken ‘recreational’ illegal drugs in his life and wouldn’t let this go. Eventually, it was shown that the trace of opioids in his blood came from eating toasted bread with poppy seeds, every morning for his breakfast.

    • #4709

      EricPoints
      Participant

      …………..I wonder how much toast he had to eat for it to have that effect?

      • #4710

        Adam
        Participant

        The problem with many of these drug cases is not the fact that more people are taking them – it’s the testing that’s getting ever more exacting. Back in the day when I considered analytical chemistry – a laboratory would need about a kilo of what it was you wanted testing because a little was used for each separate chemical you were looking for. Chromotography was used and much time was taken up by the need to constantly calibrate the testing equipment. These days there’s a neat bit of kit called a Mass Spectrometer – it can test microscopic amounts of sample and gives a complete analysis in one go almost down to the individual atoms and if it’s a compound – details of the manufacturer, where he buys his underpants!

        • #4711

          Ih8people
          Participant

          Testing for what are known as “drugs of abuse” (DAT: “drugs of abuse testing”) is not done by analytical chemistry, but by automated immunoassay.

          There’s a good Wikipedia article to explain how that works, and you can find more information on the web, such as this very informative brochure from Thermo Fisher (just look at the list of things that can be detected.

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