Australia has a very distinct drinking culture, and it is not unexpected for that culture to spill over into the workplace. We all know, however, how detrimental alcohol abuse can be to everyone in a place of business.
When someone is consuming alcohol, workplace health and safety may become compromised. Accidents resulting in injuries or death could happen, or the aggressive behaviour or the loss of inhibition that alcohol triggers could put people in rather compromising situations as the whole workforce looks on.
So what should Australian employers do to address alcohol abuse issues in the workplace?
Banning of alcohol abuse should be clearly stated in the policy
Many employers now have workplace drug policies in place, but some make the mistake of having their programs focus too much on illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, or ice, and say too little or nothing about alcohol. The curious thing is many studies have already ranked alcohol as one of the most, if not the most dangerous drug in the world. We tend to agree, considering the high number of deaths brought about by drink driving in the last few decades or so.
Every organisation also needs to have a workplace drug and alcohol policy. A clearly-stated ban on alcohol use is one effective way of addressing substance abuse issues in the workplace.
Regular, year-round random testing for alcohol abuse also works
During the holiday season, people tend to drink more, and more frequently at that, all in keeping with the festive mood that that time of the year brings. With the perceived increase in drinking during this period, many employers who actually have rules about alcohol consumption in the workplace think selectively implementing alcohol testing policies during the festive season gives them more effective control as well as improved health and safety compliance.
The truth is, enforcing random alcohol testing during the festive season is only an effective way to address alcohol abuse in the workplace in the short-term. In the long term, selective alcohol testing is not an effective way of controlling alcohol use in the workplace. It never does anything to make employees become more responsible and accountable with regards to alcohol consumption.
To put it simply, employees could just try their very best not to consume too much alcohol during the holiday season when random alcohol tests are imposed, and return to drinking heavily once the season ends and there are no more drug tests to worry about for another year.
To create a desired culture of responsibility and accountability and keep employees in line when it comes to alcohol consumption, alcohol policies should be enforced consistently throughout the year. In other words, employees must be aware that random alcohol testing can be done at any time of the year.
As for awareness, it is important to have drug education and awareness programs that will help teach employees not only on the finer points of the company’s alcohol policy, but also to the toll that alcohol consumption has on their general health and the safety of the workplace.
Quality testing equipment
To consistently enforce alcohol policies all year round, an employer must have high-quality testing equipment. At present, the most viable technology for determining a person’s current alcohol levels is the breathalyser.
The breathalyser, which comes in various brands, have proven to be quite effective at meeting the needs of companies across industries. With regular use in the workplace, it can help any employer effectively enforce alcohol policies and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.
Remember, a clear policy on alcohol consumption, consistent enforcement of workplace drug and alcohol testing and the right equipment can help businesses effectively address alcohol abuse issues in the workplace.
For more information on our drug and alcohol testing services, contact SafeWork Laboratories today.
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