The Dangers Posed By Drugs And Alcohol Over The Xmas Party Season
These days everyone is aware of the impact drugs and alcohol can have on the workplace environment and I’m sure that you will have a strict drugs and alcohol policy in place. Societal use of drugs and alcohol has undergone a dramatic change in recent years in terms of attitude towards drink driving and drug use as well as the introduction of so-called legal highs so it’s important to also look at how an employee’s use of substances outside the workplace can have drastic implications within.
With the festive season fast approaching, most of us are looking forward to socialising more with our colleagues and clients. If you’re anything like me, you’re fully aware of the dangers of drinking and driving and make alternative arrangements to get home after a big night out but have you considered how long it takes alcohol to leave your system?
There’s a good chance that someone may still be over the legal limit when driving to work in the morning. A freedom of information request we submitted to Greater Manchester Police showed that 1 in 5 of all drink driving arrests during the month of December happened from Monday to Friday between 6am-10pm. This number falls to just 1 in 8 in January, which leads me to believe that more people are going to or from work under the influence in December as a result of Christmas parties.
When it comes to drug driving the numbers don’t get any better – 1 in 4 drug driving arrests during the month of December happened from Monday to Friday between 6am-10pm, increasing to a staggering 1 in 3 in January. It’s important to note that these figures only relate to the number of arrests of people under the influence of illegal drugs. When you take into consideration cognitive-enhancing drugs or prescription medication, the actual number of employees who are potentially working under the influence might be considerably higher.
We recently came across an example where a company had a warehouse operative whose role included fork lift truck driving. The fork lift is not road registered and he only drives it within the confines of the business premises. The employee was convicted of drug driving and received a 22 month driving ban; he was honest with his employer and his conviction did not directly affect his employment as he didn’t drive a company vehicle. However, when his MD mentioned the driving ban to the company insurer at renewal time he was told that they could not insure the employee to drive the fork lift as his drug use made him an unacceptable risk. The employer was left with no other alternative but to terminate the employee as he was not legally able to carry out his duties due to lack of insurance.
Workplace testing has been used for decades but we’ve also seen drug and alcohol usage dramatically increase over this time as well. My team and I think that, while testing can be used to identify those who come to work whilst impaired, it’s just as important to take a proactive approach to the issue, educating employees and minimising the chance of them taking the risk of coming to work whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
That’s why I created our substance misuse training course, designed to provide delegates with a thorough understanding of how to manage substance misuse within the workplace. Topics covered on the course include the implementation of policies and legislation, management of individuals who are under the influence as well as the various options for testing. We also look at the effect substance misuse has on society as a whole as well as the physical effects of drugs and alcohol on the individual.
I’d recommend this course to anyone that holds a managerial or supervisory role within a company. There are very severe penalties for employers who fail to prevent accidents caused by the actions of an employee. We have seen a huge increase in the number of insurers that are making it a requirement to have a drugs and alcohol policy in place. While you may already have that, our experience also shows that those companies whose policy is backed up by training, education and a well-defined screening process often get a better rate of insurance.
So what are you waiting for?
At ELAS it’s our job to ensure that your company is protected and your employees work in a safe and supportive environment. As always, if you can’t find a course that suits your needs please get in touch and I’ll be happy to create one specifically for you. Just give me a ring on 0161 785 2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your training needs.