More companies have indicated an interest in forming a workplace alcohol and drug policy within their procedures and organisation objectives. If you are looking into this and require information, this update should help you form what would be needed.
The content of an alcohol and drug policy should be based on the identification of hazards and the assessment of workplace risks and the strategies to address them.
What is included in the policy will depend on the perceived extent of alcohol and drug use, assessment of the associated risks and the individual requirements of the workplace. The policy could be incorporated into an existing occupational health and safety policy framework. An effective policy should include information on the following areas:
Aims and objectives – the policy should clearly state its aims and objectives. The policy should aim to prevent drug and alcohol-related incidents and foster safe behaviours at work. The objective could be, for example, to prevent or minimise the potential for alcohol and drugs to contribute to work-related injury
Scope – the scope of the policy should be based on a risk assessment and outline the application of the policy and its supporting procedures. It should be clear that the policy applies to everyone at the workplace including employers, directors, workers and consultants, as well as visitors, clients, customers and contractors entering the workplace. Workers need to be assured that there will be no discrimination in the application of the policy
Workplace specific content and details – the policy should include workplace specific risks and hazards with specific strategies to address issues arising from alcohol and drug usage including whether a workplace drug testing regime will be implemented
Work sponsored functions – at some workplaces, it may be advisable to include a section outlining the organisation’s policy on consumption of alcohol at work sponsored functions. Alternatively, a separate set of procedures dealing with work-sponsored functions may be developed. The policy should clearly set out the employer’s expectations of appropriate behaviour in relation to the consumption of alcohol at work sponsored functions
Identification of an affected person– the policy should outline the procedures for identifying workers who appear to be affected from alcohol and/or other drugs. Potential difficulties should be considered when identification strategies are being formulated. For example, the possibility of someone being affected through other causes, such as fatigue or stress, should be considered. The policy should detail a process to ensure all individuals are fairly treated. Strategies should aim to differentiate between the effects of a drug, alcohol, fatigue or a possible medical condition.