How can a policy form the basis of workplace drug & alcohol testing?
If you work in a company with safety-critical roles it is more than likely that you have some sort of workplace drug and alcohol testing policy in place. Even companies without safety-critical roles are implementing these policies to further ensure the health, safety and well-being of their staff.
Employers hold the responsibility to ensure employees are fully aware of the company’s rules, regulations, testing and disciplinary procedures. The policy itself holds vital importance, providing employees with the knowledge of the standards expected of them, whilst educating themselves with information provided in a written comprehensive manner.
The importance of implementing a policy
The most important element of a workplace drug and alcohol testing policy is SAFETY. Drug and alcohol use increases the probability of workplace accidents occurring. Studies have found that employees who have alcohol problems are 2.7 times more likely to have an accident whilst at work. The main issues associated with substance misuse relate to:
- Absenteeism – it’s estimated that 17 million days of work are lost per year due to substance misuse.
- Low productivity levels – employees may reduce output in different tasks and become demotivated.
- Inappropriate behaviour – some cases of substance abuse may lead to crime.
- Aggressive behaviour towards others – resulting in loss of employment / convictions.
It’s evident that many who suffer from drug & alcohol abuse are in employment. Studies show 25% of those in employment were registered drug addicts with 3.3% of all adults aged 16-59 classified as frequent users.
Significant issues such as these provide growing concerns for employers to implement a workplace drug and alcohol policy, to ensure the welfare of each member of staff is considered. Under the Health & Safety Act 1974, employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees is fully met in order to maintain standards.
The importance of a workplace policy for drugs and alcohol can benefit employers by:
- Building relationships with employees by showing there is help and support available.
- Policies can raise awareness of issues in the business and can encourage staff members to take action if needed.
- It can reduce the number of sick employees, reduce staff turnover and increase productivity levels.