We are now well into the silly season and I have received reminder of why we always advise our clients to regulate alcohol at work functions, whether those functions are at the work premises, in a public space or at someone's private residence.
A client of ours hosted a work Christmas function at their home last Saturday and despite having a Drugs and Alcohol Policy and Fitness for Work Procedure that states alcohol consumption must be moderate, one staff member allegedly consumed a considerable volume of alcohol. He fell and hit his head, was knocked unconscious and had such swelling to his brain the doctors had to perform emergency brain surgery. His prognosis is unknown at this time, but we wish him a speedy and full recovery.
It is easy to pooh pooh safety professionals when we ask for certain things like controlled (or prohibited) alcohol at work and work functions. We are used to being called the Fun Police or a boil on the backside of progress, but we truly do have good reasons for what we do. We don't want to get in the way of enjoyment or success. What we want to do is get in the way of work related injuries, because no one deserves to be hurt at work.
If you are planning to have a work Christmas function please conduct a thorough risk assessment. Plan how staff are going to get to and from the venue. Identify means to ensure staff do not get falling down drunk. Or more simply, do not serve alcohol.