Today (28 April 2023) is World Day for Safety and Health at Work: an annual campaign organised by the International Labour Organisation, to highlight the importance of safer workspaces and the ways in which businesses can reduce the risk of workplace deaths and injuries.

Health and safety in the workplace has never been more important, as figures from the Health & Safety Authority show that around 600,000 working days are lost each year due to workplace injuries.

One of the most serious considerations for any business when looking at their health and safety procedures is how to tackle alcohol and drug misuse in the workforce.

As a leading drug and alcohol testing laboratory, we work with businesses of all sizes across a vast array of sectors, helping them create safer working environments for their employees.

But what is an employer’s duty of care to employees, and how can you reduce the risks posed by alcohol and drug use?

In this blog we look at where your responsibility lies as an employer, and how drug and alcohol misuse can be tackled in a compassionate way.

The employer’s responsibility

The rise of home and hybrid working means more businesses now have workforces with diverse working patterns.

This means that, now more than ever, businesses need to have a clear understanding of their duty of care for the health, safety, and welfare of employees as set out by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005

This is especially pertinent when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

With over 30% of adults in Ireland engaging in binge drinking at least once a month and 1 in 14 adults using drugs in the last year, it’s important to stay connected with those working from home to ensure any suspected substance misuse can be tackled as early as possible, and appropriate support offered.

Having a clearly defined and robust drugs and alcohol policy in place is a good starting point for employers looking to mitigate the risk posed by drug and alcohol misuse – both in the workplace and by remote workers.

This not only demonstrates your commitment to the health and safety of employees, suppliers and customers, it can also help protect your company’s reputation in the event of a serious incident.

Creating a culture of safety

When introducing or updating your drug and alcohol policy, you need to consider how you will communicate these changes to your employees to ensure health and safety is firmly embedded in your company culture.

At the same time, you should also consider appropriate awareness training for management and employees, so that everyone knows what to look out for regarding substance misuse.

This helps make workplace safety a collective responsibility, by equipping people with the knowledge they need to recognise the signs of someone who may be drinking alcohol or using drugs at work.

In addition to training, employees should also feel comfortable discussing health and wellbeing with their line managers.  

Offering compassionate and appropriate support can help those struggling with drug or alcohol misuse, encourage a more open culture, and reduce the risk of workplace incidents or accidents involving staff or members of the public.

Some of the signs of drug or alcohol misuse you can look out for – even if the individual is working from home – include:

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

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.

Our accredited toxicology laboratory can analyse a variety of samples for the presence of drugs, alcohol and their metabolites, including oral fluid (saliva), breath, urine, hair and nail samples, with randomfor cause (post-incident/accent), pre-employment and post-rehab/return-to-work testing available.

Plus, with our Dublin walk-in centre and network of professional sample collectors, you can trust us to collect your samples quickly and efficiently. This rapid sample collection is vital when analysing samples that provide a narrow window of detection for drug or alcohol use, such as urine (up to four days), breath (here and now), and oral fluid samples (up to 48 hours).

We also offer awareness training, policy creation and review, as well as sample collection training, if you would prefer to collect your own samples on site.

To learn more, call our expert Workplace team today on 01 402 9466 or email to discuss a bespoke solution for your business.

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