Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace: Information, education and training
Consumption of drugs and alcohol can have a damaging impact not only on employee health, but also workplace productivity and safety. Research suggests that nearly 9% of workers report drinking while ‘on the job’, and 1% of workers use drugs while in the workplace.
Certain occupational groups such as blue collar workers can be ‘at a higher risk’ of consuming drugs and alcohol at work2. When we look at groups with the largest proportion of those who drink alcohol at levels associated with harm, workers in hospitality, agriculture and mining join the two at-risk groups1. (For more information regarding ‘at harm’ drinking levels visit www.nhmrc.gov.au/halth-topics/alcohol-guidelines).
With this in mind, it’s important to look at drug and alcohol education within a workplace. But what should such training include?
First off, consider educating workers about your drug and alcohol policy (and the procedures)! Workers may often know the employers stance of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, but may be uncertain of the workplace procedures in asking for assistance with misuse of drugs and/or alcohol, self testing or general drug and alcohol testing.
Consider educating the employees on:
the company defines unacceptable alcohol and drugs use (makng reference to the policy)
of employees and employers regarding drug and alcohol testing
company will deal with long-term users and one-off situations
of drug and alcohol testing within the workplace (e.g. pre-employment versus random versus casual testing)
for workers who take prescription medications which may effect drug and alcohol testing results and/or performance
of treatment, counselling and rehabilitation services
of alcohol and other drugs on employee health, safety and work performance. General education regarding drug and alcohol use is recommended to be included. Workplaces with higher levels of drug and alcohol misuse may require training regarding coping strategies for stressors.
Workplaces may also consider aditional training for managers and supervisors on how to appropriately identify and approach employees who may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Supervisors and managers may also benefit from training surrounding how to refer employees to rehabilitation and support services.
To develop a workplace culture that restricts alcohol and drug related harm, training should be regular, ongoing and adaptable to the ever-changing world of drug and alcohol use (and detection. Try to get your training to relate to other health and wellbeing initiatives. This is will create a holistic method to develop a healthy and safe workplace!
Need help with your drug and alcohol training program? Sonic HealthPlus is a registered training organisation with courses available in drug and alcohol awareness.
1. National Health and Medical Research Council: Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol
2. Work Safe TAS: Alcohol and Other Drugs
3. Work Cover NSW: Alcohol and other Drugs in the Workplace, Guide to developing a workplace alcohol and other drugs policy.