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Drug and Alcohol Policies

Simply put, a drug and alcohol policy explains in simple terms what a company’s expectations are of any person who comes onto their site/s with specific regard to drugs and alcohol. It seems straightforward however I have seen drug and alcohol policies break the culture of an organisation primarily due to the amount of thought put into them. A poorly thought out policy or a policy that is poorly consulted on and implemented is just as likely to drive good staff away from your company.

I’m currently working with a company who have had a drug and alcohol policy and procedure in the past, but it has been allowed to decay over many years. They find themselves now in a position where they need to have a policy and procedure in place because their own clients are starting to expect it from them, and will hold them accountable for its operation. They are currently madly trying to find something to implement, but I have expressed concerns because they are rushing and I’m not sure they know what they are even trying to achieve. Here’s a summation of my advice to that company:

1) Think about WHAT you are trying to achieve;

Are you trying to take a zero tolerance approach? If so, with regard to blood alcohol content is it really required? Employers should be properly concerned about impairment of their staff at work due to alcohol and drug consumption, but it should not be seen as an employers right to engage in a witch hunt to stamp out activities they disapprove of that take place in a worker’s private life. A zero tolerance to impairment at work is far more likely to succeed than one that seeks to take charge of a worker’s right to privacy out of work hours.

2) Think about WHY you are trying to achieve it;

Have you had an incident at work that involved drugs or alcohol? Are you trying to be proactive? Do you have a worker you’d like to move on and have no other option but to try catching them with a drug and alcohol testing regime? While so called problem workers do need to be moved on, setting up a drug and alcohol policy simply to weed out poor quality staff is inappropriate. Human resources, industrial relations and work health and safety are often uncomfortable bedfellows. Ensure your reasons for wanting to implement a drug and alcohol policy isn’t because you have industrial issues.

3) Determine HOW you are going to achieve it;

Investigate the options of doing in house testing, or contracting these activities out. It is often more cost effective to conduct in house testing. Think also about legal drug management. Legal drugs bought via prescription or over the counter can impair a person, and such consumption is often overlooked.

4) Determine the time frame for WHEN you expect to achieve it.

Allow enough time to properly engage with staff. By giving staff the opportunity not only to have an opinion on what you are trying to achieve, but on its contents you are far more likely to have buy in from your staff.

Properly consulted on and implemented, a drug and alcohol policy can help a company to manage its risks in an effective manner. Poorly planed and executed, a drug and alcohol policy can drive good employees away from your company and cause real mistrust and resentment.

If you would like advice on how to implement a drug and alcohol policy in your organisation, contact us.

Moore McPhee WHS Consultants specialise in the needs of small and medium businesses. We are here to help and can provide cost effective solutions for your business. Contact us on 1300 362 351, or speak directly to our Senior Principal Consultant Vanessa Moore on 0401 382 083 or at [email protected] for a confidential discussion about your particular work health and safety needs.

Disclaimer: Any advice and information in this article is general in nature, does not take into account particular circumstances and should not be construed as professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, the information in this article is prepared for South Australian Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking as defined in the SA Work Health and Safety Act 2012 only. The information may be applicable to other states of Australia that have adopted the harmonised work health and safety legislation but is not guaranteed.


© Moore McPhee WHS Consultants Pty Ltd 2017. All rights reserved. Copyright from other authors is acknowledged were applicable. Do not copy, publish or reuse without permission.

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