Drugs and alcohol at work – is your company protected?

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Companies are increasingly being held responsible for ensuring their employees are fit for work. With the UK government clamping down on drink and drug drivers, businesses are being urged to adopt new health and safety procedures regarding drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace.

According to the Department for Transport, drugs and alcohol cost British businesses in excess of £6 billion a year in lost productivity and a third of employers say alcohol and drug misuse is a problem at their office. On top of this there is also the potential damage to a business’s reputation should they be held accountable for an employee’s wrongdoing. However, with the plethora of testing equipment and information on offer, it is not always easy to know where to start with implementing an effective drug and alcohol testing policy.

Drug and alcohol safety expert Suzannah Robin from AlcoDigital says: “We have helped companies in many different industry sectors to implement robust alcohol and drug policies and one of the things that concerns all of them from the outset is how their employees are going to react to a new testing policy being introduced.

“Of course, there may be some reluctance from employees so companies should always communicate clearly with their staff before introducing new policies so they can fully understand the rationale behind them and what the potential consequences of a positive test will be.”

So what makes a good alcohol and drug testing policy? Suzannah says it all depends on how the company operates. “If a firm has staff working on heavy machinery or they employ commercial drivers then we would recommend regular testing – this could be anything from fitting an interlock breathalyser to a vehicle, which will immobilise the engine if the result proves positive, to testing employees before shifts with a handheld digital device. Other companies may find it more beneficial to implement a random screening procedure to act as a deterrent – this is especially useful if daily testing is not possible or suitable.”

If implemented effectively, drug and alcohol policies can help to reduce absenteeism, increase worker productivity and improve customer satisfaction.

“We have found that regular random testing of employees for drugs and alcohol has resulted in significant benefits for improving safety and safeguarding businesses from the potential fallout of lost revenue and reputation damage,” says Suzannah. “However, many more companies, particularly those in the transport industry or those operating heavy machinery, need to do more to improve standards – not just for the safety of their employees, but to protect the general public as well.”

AlcoDigital provides free reviews for companies looking to implement drug and alcohol policies.  Please visit alcodigital.co.uk for more information.

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    AUTHOR

    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson