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Drugs, alcohol and the workplace – A dangerous mix

Feel like having a long lunch with clients this Friday? Do your staff sometimes have a quick beer at lunch with their co-workers? Or perhaps one or two had a big night last night and have come to work a bit ‘worse for wear’?

If you work in an office, or in a low risk industry, surely there is not much risk to your staff having a wine or two on at a Friday lunchtime, or coming to work after a few too many drinks the night before. Isn’t that better than them not coming to work at all and taking a ‘sickie’?

When it comes to Work Health and Safety, this attitude needs serious
re-consideration.

Many workers, and employers, are not aware that legal drugs, such as sleeping tablets or even antihistamines, as well as alcohol, can be dangerous, not only in high risk environments but also in low risk and office based workplaces.

What if your receptionist has a glass of wine at lunch and then got her hand caught in the postal franking machine, or your travelling sales man drinks heavily out of work hours, and drives a work vehicle the next morning having an accident from reduced response time as a residual effect? These situations can and do happen in many workplaces.

For some industries it is standard practice to expect drug testing as a matter of course in the workplace. Other industries should consider if it is appropriate to protect against risk by measures such as compulsory testing or educating employees of their risks and obligations.

It is important to have clear standards of the treatment of alcohol and drugs in your workplace. Managers and operators of the business should also comply with these policies.

We regularly help employers put guidelines in place to prevent problems in the workplace due to alcohol and drugs, and also advise employers if employees are acting irresponsibly with drugs or alcohol in the workplace.

For further information, contact the Workplace Law Team.