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Drugs and Alcohol in the workplace

Everyone has a duty of care while in the workplace for their own safety and that of those around them. There is no direct law that can incriminate workers in Australia for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while at work but alternate methods can be used to stop such behaviour.

It is well know that when someone is under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs within a working environment they instantly become a health and safety issue for themselves and everyone around them. Being under the influence changes the natural mechanics of your brain, making you act and behave in ways you may have not acted otherwise. Having a boost in confidence or the opposite; becoming sluggish and paying less attention to your surroundings can end in catastrophic outcomes.
Below are a few key Australian facts relating to workers being under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Key Messages 

  • People in the workforce are more likely to have consumed alcohol or illicit drugs in the past 12 months than people who are not in the workforce.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, the greater costs to employers do not arise through the behaviour and habits of alcohol and drug dependent workers, but through the greater number of moderate drinkers when they occasionally or infrequently drink to excess or infrequently use illicit drugs.
  • The impairment that comes from both acute and chronic symptoms of alcohol and illicit drug use could lead to health and safety issues for both the workers who consumed these products and other people they work with.
  • Considering the length of time that people spend at work, the workplace is ideally situated to change attitudes and behaviour in regards to alcohol and other drug use.
  • A workplace policy on alcohol and drug use should be developed in consultation with all members of the workplace, applied equally to all levels, clearly stating what is acceptable behaviour and the consequences of any unacceptable behaviour and be clearly communicated to all members of the workforce.

Below is a table showing the number of standard drinks of alcohol for risk of short and long term harms for males and females.  


For risk of harm in the short term
 

 

            risk                              Low risk                          Risky                              High 

                                                               On any one day

Males

 

 

Females

 

Up to 6

No more than 3 days

Per week

up to 4

No more than 3 days

Per week

7 to 10

 

 

5 to 6

11 or more

 

 

7 or more

 

For risk of harm in the long term

 

             risk                             Low risk                         Risky                               High

                                                              On any one day

 

Males

Females

 

Up to 4

Up to 2

 

5 to 6

3 to 4

 

7 or more

5 of more

 

 

Overall weekly level 

 

Males

Females

 

Up to 28

Up to 14

 

29 to 42

15to 28

 

 

43 or more

29 or more

The building trades group drug and alcohol program

SafetyFirst support The Building Trades Group Drug & Alcohol Program. They have a great website that contains information on policies and guidelines, training and education, HIV/AIDS and general information for workers in the construction industry.

Website - The Building Trades Group Drug & Alcohol Program 

 

 

 Alcohol and the Body - Australian Drug Foundation

 

Dangerous drugs in the workplace - an educational video showing the dangers of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol at work.

States and territories

Links

 

Other websites

 

 

The Building Trades Group Drug & Alcohol Program 

Foundation house

 

Australian Documents

 

WORK-RELATED ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE

 

Victoria

 

Management of alcohol and drugs in mines

Alcohol

ALCOHOL IN THE WORKPLACE - GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPING A WORKPLACEALCOHOL POLICY

Employees

Mine Operators

What Are The Risks?

 

New South Wales

 

Alcohol and other drugs

ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS IN THE WORKPLACE

Alcohol and drugs in the workplace

 

Queensland

 

Framework for alcohol and drug management in the workplace

 

Tasmania

 

06F ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS

THE EFFECT OF ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE IN THE WORKPLACE

Template: Alcohol and drug policy

WHERE TO GO FOR MORE INFORMATION – ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS

A SIMPLE GUIDE TO EVALUATION

 

South Australia

 

Guidelines for February 2001 Drugs, Alcohol & the Workplace

Guidelines for Addressing ALCOHOL & OTHER DRUGS IN THE WORKPLACE

The Impact of Alcohol & Other Drugs in the Workplace