Drug and alcohol policy part of robust health and safety
One of the questions we often get asked is ‘can I conduct drug testing in my workplace?’ While the question is perhaps understandable, if safety is important in your business a better question may be ‘what am I risking by not undertaking drug testing in my workplace?’.
An excellent resource from Victoria’s statutory authority for roads and traffic, VicRoads, explains this quite well.
The resources explains that under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 and Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (VIC), an employer has a general duty of care towards employees and others who may be present in the workplace. As an employer, you’re responsible for providing a safe workplace, educating and instructing employees, consulting with employees on safety and ensuring that policies are adhered to.
So, if you’re workplace is safety-critical (think transportation, aviation, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, etc.) then managing drugs and alcohol and conducting drug testing is a vital part of your safety focus.
VicRoads lays out a simple plan that workplaces can implement to reduce the harm associated with alcohol and drug misuse. The plan includes:
- Policy – Having a comprehensive drug and alcohol policy that is customised to your specific workplace.
- Communicate – Ensuring that everyone within your organisation knows about your drug and alcohol policy, understands what it means and knows where to get help.
- Educate – Educating everyone within your organisation of the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the impact it can have on workplace safety, including introducing guidelines on how long drugs and alcohol can stay in your system.
Employees – what’s your drug and alcohol policy?
Of course, it’s not just up to employers to maintain a safe working environment and it can be argued that employees – or those at the coal face so to speak – are the ones that have the most to lose when drug and alcohol management is not up to scratch. In addition, employees also have responsibilities under workplace safety acts to maintain a safe working environment.
It’s perhaps over-simplistic, but obviously employees should not be affected by alcohol or drugs while they are at work. This includes not being affected by hangovers or the comedowns from drugs.
Employees – particularly those that work in safety critical roles, as VicRoads states, “should be aware of their own ability to work and ensure they comply with their employer’s policies at all times.” After all, while supervisors and managers can and should be looking out for people who may be unsafe to be in the workplace due to drugs and alcohol, self-assessment by employees is a more effective way of controlling the risks.
To read more about VicRoads’ advice on how to prevent drug and alcohol in the workplace, go to the VicRoads website.
Can you conduct drug testing in your workplace? If safety is important, the answer is pretty simple. Credit Frank Starmer https://www.flickr.com/photos/spiderman/2281598/