Workplace health and safety remains a high priority in the wake of the pandemic, as more and more people return to work following a prolonged period of homeworking.

But with so much emphasis on handwashing and hygiene, how are senior managers tackling the serious risks associated with alcohol and drug misuse at work?  

Today (28th April) is World Day for Safety and Health at Work, a global awareness-raising campaign organised by the International Labour Organisation, and designed to focus attention on creating safer workspaces and reducing the number of work-related deaths and injuries.

As a leading provider of workplace drug and alcohol testing solutions, AlphaBiolabs works with companies of all sizes and across a range of sectors to create a safer working environment for their employees.

In this blog, we take a closer look at an employer’s duty of care to employees and how companies can reduce the risk posed by alcohol and drug use at work to create a safer, more productive working environment for everyone.

Employer responsibility

Although the pandemic has shone a spotlight on occupational safety and health, there is still a lot for businesses to learn when it comes to the importance of having a drug and alcohol policy.  

In a survey of 500 senior managers conducted by AlphaBiolabs, 20 per cent admitted to having no such policy in place, while 1 in 5 did not feel confident they’d be able to spot the signs of someone abusing drugs or alcohol at work. 1

These are shocking statistics when you consider that between 2017 and 2021, there were over 43,000 non-fatal incidents reported in workplaces across Ireland, according to a report from the Health and Safety Authority.2

And while we cannot say how many of these incidents involved illicit substances, we do know that using alcohol or drugs can seriously impact your concentration, increasing the risk of severe and, in rare instances, fatal workplace accidents.    

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, all employers are responsible for ensuring the safety, health and welfare of their employees.

Having an appropriate drug and alcohol policy in place not only demonstrates your commitment to workplace health and safety, but can also help protect your company’s reputation in the event of a serious incident.

A culture of safety

Before updating your drug and alcohol policy, it’s important to think about how you will communicate these changes to your employees to ensure health and safety is firmly embedded in your company culture.

Creating an environment where people feel comfortable discussing health and wellbeing with their line manager, and offering appropriate support, can also help individuals struggling with drug or alcohol misuse before these issues pose any significant threat to other employees.

Additionally, effective awareness training can help ensure management and staff are equipped to spot the signs of a person who may be drinking alcohol or taking drugs at work.

Here are a few of the tell-tale signs of drug or alcohol misuse:

  • Reduced productivity
  • Increased conflict with colleagues
  • Unexplained absences
  • Poor decision making

Thankfully, for businesses looking to update or introduce a substance misuse policy, there are many testing solutions available that can be tailored to suit your company’s needs.

At AlphaBiolabs, our toxicology laboratory can analyse oral fluid (saliva), breath, urine, fingerprint, hair and nail samples for the presence of drugs and/or alcohol, with Random, For Cause, Pre-employment and Post-rehab & Return to Work testing available.

Where can I get drug and alcohol testing for my business?

AlphaBiolabs works with businesses across Ireland, providing a broad range of drug and alcohol testing services for the workplace.

We also offer awareness training and assistance with policy review and creation.

To learn more, call our friendly, knowledgeable workplace team today on 01 402 9466 or email workplace@alphabiolabs.com to discuss a bespoke solution for your business.

Sources
1: Find Out Now, survey of 500 senior managers in safety critical industries, commissioned by AlphaBiolabs (construction, manufacturing, engineering, and logistics).
2: Health and Safety Authority, Workplace incident statistics, 2017-2021

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