Saturday, October 8, 2011

Drug and Alcohol Policies in the Workplace

Drug and alcohol abuse can affect a workplace by causing a range of different problems. An employee suffering from substance abuse has a higher risk of causing injury to themselves or others, are more likely to claim workers compensation, are more likely to be absent frequently and can cause a decrease in productivity. Drug and alcohol abuse can directly affect a workplace and cost the company a lot of money. It can also be difficult identifying someone who is suffering from substance abuse, and although drug testing kits could prove whether or not an employee has a problem, policies must be put into place within a workplace before an employee can be approached and something done to help them. Duty of Care Employers have a duty of care to their employees, just as employees need to take reasonable care of the health and safety of others. Employees duty of care includes that the use of drugs or alcohol are not involved within the workplace or places them in a state where their safety, or the safety of others, is jeopardised. This duty of care for employers extends to putting into place a policy that has a method of approach for staff members that are suspected of substance abuse, and outlines the necessary steps to helping that employee. By having a drug and alcohol policy within your company you are taking positive steps towards dealing with the problem of substance abuse constructively. Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy The policy should be a written policy which applies to all workers. It should be formulated together by management, employees or their representatives, such as the union. The Occupational Health and Safety committee within the company need to make sure the policy is implemented and updated as needed. Policy Aim The aim of a drug and alcohol policy within your workplace should be to firstly prevent substance abuse within the ranks of your staff, and also provide education, counselling and rehabilitation if needed. The policy should be a part of your companies general occupational health and safety strategy and look to eliminating the risks of drug and alcohol use within your workplace. Training Training and education is important, and it is a positive step for any workplace, to provide the right information to staff. This training should cover things like what is harmful substance use, what the effects of alcohol and drug use does to safety and performance within the workplace and what the consequences may be for employees who fail to follow the rules set out by the policy. Employees also need to know how to deal with harmful drug and alcohol use and how to recognise possible substance abuse in other employees. They need to know who to approach if they think someone is under the effects of drugs or alcohol and also what services are available to them if they need help. Occupational Health and Safety representatives or managers need the skills to identify an employee with an addiction and how to manage the issue.

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