Alcohol Abuse Policy: Definition and Aspects To Cover
31 October, 2023
Ethanol abuse is a complex and multifaceted problem that has severe consequences. To protect workplace safety, some companies and organisations implement an alcohol abuse policy. This policy is a set of guidelines that address issues related to the intake of alcoholic beverages. Moreover, it includes risk management strategies to prevent substance use disorders. Training and education programs are some examples. Lastly, regulations and disciplinary actions, like suspensions and termination, emphasise the conviction of the company.
Intoxication within the workplace has many harmful effects. It contributes to increased occurrence of accidents, absenteeism, and tardiness. Thus, companies use several testing methods for alcohol testing. This includes breath, blood, hair, urine, and saliva tests. Furthermore, companies must offer assistance programs to those identified with substance use disorders. This boosts morale and encourages treatment for workers. This article will present the definition of an alcohol misuse policy and the aspects included, such as risk management strategies and disciplinary actions.
What is an Alcohol Abuse Policy
An alcohol abuse policy is a set of guidelines implemented by an organisation or company aimed to address issues related to liquor consumption. Typically, this outlines the expectations of the company to their employees. It should inform them of what tests will be used during screenings. Moreover, it should include instances when testing may take place. Additionally, it may list the consequences of abusing substances during work hours.
This policy establishes the rules workers must follow to maintain safety within the workplace. This is especially true in high-risk industries like construction, mining, and transportation. Furthermore, it enables companies to mitigate legal risks by complying with the applicable laws and regulations.
Addictive substances, like alcohol and illegal drugs, have harmful effects on the physical and mental well-being of individuals. Alcohol has short-term effects like lowered inhibitions, nausea, vomiting, and poor concentration. Meanwhile, long-term effects include increased risk for cancers and other heart, kidney, and liver diseases. Thus, deterring employees from consuming liquor is a helpful advantage of enforcing a strict alcohol policy.
Effects of Intoxication in the Workplace
There are many adverse effects of intoxication in the workplace. Here are some of them:
- Overconsumption of products with ethanol increases the numbers of absenteeism and tardiness of employees.
- Intoxication in the workplace reduces productivity by impairing their physical and mental abilities.
- Alcohol misuse may lead to strained relationships between co-workers due to irritability and reckless behaviours.
- Intoxication during work hours increases safety issues and the risk of accidents, which may cause injuries or deaths.
- Intake of alcoholic beverages with drugs may cause medical emergencies.
- It decreases the reputation of the company due to poor productivity and safety risks.
Including the Risk Management Strategies in an Alcohol Abuse Policy
Risk management strategies are crucial for any alcohol abuse policy. Misusing ethanol and other substances leads to several adverse effects on the well-being of the company and its employees. Incorporating risk management strategies may mitigate potential risks and allow for early intervention.
Awareness and education programs are some strategies companies may include in their policies. This may inform them about the health hazards of heavy consumption of alcohol. Additionally, it may help them recognise the symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Some signs include constant cravings for liquor, excessive consumption of alcohol, and disregard for the consequences of ethanol abuse. Moreover, it may inform them regarding the risk of harm of consuming prescription medication with liquor.
Furthermore, companies may include regular monitoring of alcohol misuse in their policies. Various tests are available to detect traces of alcohol within the body. Employers may conduct these tests during pre-employment, at random, under reasonable suspicion, or after accidents or near misses. The positive effects of regular screenings include deterred use of substances among employees and providing evidence regarding alcohol use after accidents.
Implementing Various Types of Tests to Detect Intoxication
Several tests are available for detecting intoxication. Breath tests are popular due to their quick and reliable results. Breathalysers measure the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels of the individuals for up to 24 hours. Urine tests use urine samples to detect alcohol intake within 24 hours. Additionally, ethyl glucuronide (EtG) tests may find traces of ethanol metabolites for up to 80 hours.
Moreover, saliva tests have a detection window of 12 hours. Meanwhile, hair follicle tests offer the lengthiest detection window of 90 days. Lastly, blood tests are considered the most accurate. Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) and Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) detect alcohol consumption weeks later.
Establishing Regulations and Disciplinary Actions in an Alcohol Abuse Policy
Establishing regulations and disciplinary actions in the alcohol abuse policy is crucial for effective implementation. A comprehensive policy helps the organisation address liquor-related incidents effectively. These policies must be enforced among all employees. It should apply to everyone regardless of position to ensure safety within the workplace.
Disciplinary actions for liquor-related problems may include warnings, suspensions, and termination. Warnings are either verbal or written, depending on the severity of the incident. Verbal warnings are considered milder because written warnings have documentation. Suspensions may occur during a subsequent offence. Lastly, termination may occur after severe incidents or repeated offences.
However, companies must ensure the results of any testing are private and confidential. Only the related staff and the employee should know the alcohol testing results. Additionally, they must allow confirmatory testing to avoid the harmful effects of false positives. Lastly, companies should also offer support to employees with liquor and drug issues. This promotes a better working environment for all employees.
Offering Recovery Options and Support Programs
Companies should have employee assistance programs in their substance use policies. These programs help individuals with disorders and encourage them to seek help. Additionally, it provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals undergoing treatment. Overall, it may help people recover faster and improve morale within the company.
Medical professionals may tailor treatments based on test results. Moreover, rehabilitation includes detoxification and behavioural therapy. Support programs play a vital role in preventing relapse. They provide assistance and guidance for patients. Additionally, they offer a sense of community that increases the long-term success of ceasing harmful alcohol consumption.
An alcohol abuse policy may help deter employees from harmful alcohol consumption. Furthermore, it may provide timely interventions for those with AUD and lessen safety issues within the workplace. One of the priorities of companies should be the safety of employees. Companies may help prevent AUD by providing education and training to employees regarding the effects of liquor misuse. Furthermore, fair implementation of disciplinary actions increases the morale of workers.
Overconsumption of alcoholic beverages may result in accidents, which negatively impacts the individual. Testing after incidents provides evidence regarding the cause of the accident. However, employers must maintain the privacy of results. Moreover, they may allow confirmatory testing to avoid the consequences of false positives. They may use workplace breathalysers to prevent such incidents. BACtrack breathalysers are available at Breathalysers Australia to provide accurate and reliable measurements of BAC levels.