Drugs And Alcohol In The Workplace: Effects and Management
14 August, 2023
The use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is prevalent in many industries. Its impact can be detrimental to productivity, safety, and overall well-being. It can put other people at risk of accidents and severe injuries due to impairment. Thus, it is vital for employers to recognise the signs of substance use before an untoward incident happens. Consequently, many organisations implement drug and alcohol testing to manage their associated hazards.
In this article, we will explore the effects of drugs and alcohol on individuals and how it affects the workplace. This guide will also present strategies for managing substance use and guidelines for implementing effective drug and alcohol policies. By understanding the consequences of illicit drugs or alcohol, employers can create a safer and more productive work environment. It also helps reduce costs and protect the organisation from legal liabilities.
Effects of Drugs And Alcohol In The Workplace
The prevailing use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace can lead to a variety of negative outcomes. Firstly, it impairs the mental and physical abilities of a person to perform tasks safely and effectively. Reduced judgement and coordination increase unsafe behaviours and risks of accidents. For example, an impaired employee may fall from a high place or cause errors while operating heavy machinery.
Secondly, substance abuse affects work performance and productivity. A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol may take longer to complete tasks. They are also prone to mistakes and poor decision-making. In addition, it increases absenteeism when a person has hangovers, withdrawal symptoms, or substance-induced illnesses.
Lastly, drug and alcohol use can affect the morale of the workforce. Employees may feel threatened when working with an impaired colleague due to safety concerns. The presence of an intoxicated employee creates a hostile work environment as well. It may result in conflicts and poor teamwork due to aggression and inappropriate or unethical behaviour, tarnishing the reputation of the company.
Impacts on Employers and Employees
- Increased costs due to hospitalisation expenses, insurance claims, and property damage.
- High absenteeism and turnover rates also affect company expenses due to additional recruitment and training costs.
- Susceptible to legal risks. A workplace without a drug and alcohol policy may face legal consequences if accidents happen without preventive measures in place.
- An impaired worker is subject to disciplinary action or termination.
- Financial burden due to hospitalisation and medical bills or job loss.
- Health risks from substance abuse, including organ damage and chronic diseases.
- It can cause tension or strained relationships with colleagues.
- Causes low morale in the entire workforce.
How To Manage Drugs And Alcohol In The Workplace
Managing drugs and alcohol in the workplace is possible through policies, testing, and employee education. Establishing a clear drug and alcohol policy helps employers set standard procedures to ensure safety. It outlines the applicable measures to prevent accidents and the repercussions of violations. Additionally, it serves as a guide for employees to take reasonable care of their health and safety and others.
The policy also enables drug and alcohol testing. These procedures detect illicit substances in the system through the analysis of biological specimens. Therefore, it can help identify and address any alcohol and drug-related issues at an early stage. It is a cost-effective solution for employers to manage safety risks and maintain productivity.
Furthermore, companies may provide education programs to promote awareness of the effects of drug and alcohol misuse. Through this, workers can make better health practices and take the necessary precautions. Finally, large organisations offer rehabilitation assistance for employees affected by alcohol and drug impairment. It is vital to remember the testing programs focus on workplace safety and protection rather than punishment.
When To Conduct Tests
Various circumstances may warrant workplaces to conduct drug and alcohol tests. Generally, there must be justifiable reasons to administer these tests. The common scenarios for testing are pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, and post-incident. Employers require applicants to take the test to ensure they do not have potentially risky behaviours.
Random testing helps promote a drug-free workplace around the clock since employees are aware they can be tested anytime. Additionally, post-incident testing can help determine the cause of accidents. Meanwhile, a reasonable suspicion test is conducted when there are signs that an individual is impaired. Companies must follow strict protocols when facilitating these tests.
Test Methods To Detect Drugs And Alcohol In The Workplace
Organisations may choose from various test methods to detect drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Each type has advantages and limitations. Therefore, choosing which test to use depends on the needs and situations. The common type of workplace drug screening is the urine test. It is reliable and convenient in detecting a wide range of illicit drugs.
Another kind is saliva testing. It is relatively simpler, non-invasive, and takes less time to receive results. It is suitable for identifying recent drug use due to its shorter detection window. Furthermore, a hair test can detect substance usage for the past 90 days. It is ideal for determining if a person has a long-term drug habit.
A blood test is considered the most accurate test method. It can give a detailed analysis of the drug concentration levels within a few hours after ingestion. However, it is a more expensive option for employers. Lastly, a breath test is efficient for alcohol screening. A breathalyser test does not involve laboratory procedures for measuring Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels. It can also return the BAC results within 10 to 15 seconds.
How To Handle Positive Results
When a drug or alcohol test yields a positive result, employers must ensure they comply with the company policy. For instance, the policy should outline the actions in handling employees who failed the test. This includes discussing the test outcomes with them in a private and confidential manner.
The company policy also states specific disciplinary actions for positive results. It often includes suspension or termination, depending on the severity of the offence. Therefore, all employees must know the consequences of working under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Management may also offer drug or alcohol treatment for individuals with addiction.
The effects of drugs and alcohol in the workplace can harm the health and safety of the individual and others. It includes impaired abilities to perceive, analyse, and control physical and mental functions. Thus, it leads to injuries, high expenses, and property damage. Therefore, organisations implement workplace testing through a policy to help manage these hazards. Consistent drug and alcohol monitoring can help improve productivity, lower costs, and boost employee morale and company integrity.
Employers must communicate the alcohol and drug policies to all workers to ensure full compliance. This will help foster a safe and productive environment through the promotion of drug and alcohol awareness. Furthermore, employers may use several methods to test for illegal drugs, such as urine, saliva, and blood sampling. The tests are applicable under various circumstances, including pre-employment, post-incident, random, and reasonable suspicion. Overall, knowing the effects of drugs and alcohol can help manage potential health and safety issues.