Alcohol and other drugs in transport, logistics and warehousing
How to develop or review a workplace policy and procedure for dealing with alcohol and other drugs.
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How this helps your business
Employees under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs put themselves and other people in the workplace at risk of harm.
By preventing the problems caused by alcohol and other drug use, employers can improve productivity, reduce the number of days off people take, and improve the health of their employees.
An up to date and consistently applied alcohol and other drugs policy will help to make sure employers, managers and staff are on the same page about what is and is not appropriate behaviour in the workplace.
By creating, implementing and communicating a strong policy that protects you and your staff, you also increase awareness of the behaviour expected in your workplace.
If you or any of your staff are concerned about alcohol and/or other drug use, DirectLine offers confidential 24-hour telephone counselling, information and a referral service for anyone in Victoria who wants to talk about an alcohol or other drug-related issue.
Cost of lost productivity and absenteeism caused by alcohol and drug use.
Australian workers admitted to taking 11.5 million sick days off due to alcohol and/or drug use.
SafeWork SA, Alcohol and drugs, 2018
Talk with your staff
A workplace culture with a sensible, safe attitude towards alcohol and drug use is more easily achieved when managers and staff talk to each other about problems that might arise, and work together to find solutions.
There are many ways you can discuss alcohol and drug use with your staff and its impact in your workplace, these include:
one-on-one discussions with your team leaders and employees
formally through meetings and having alcohol and other drugs as a regular agenda item. These may be 'toolbox talks', production meetings, staff meetings or any way people in your organisation communicate with each other
when you casually walk around your workplace with your staff
through your health and safety representatives
through your health and safety committees
in your leadership meetings
internal social media platforms, peer to peer applications
through wellness and health promotion activities and staff social events
The workplace environment and culture is often overlooked when it comes to assessing the cause of alcohol and other drug concerns in the workplace. As you start to develop or review your alcohol and other drugs policy in step 2, be aware of some additional risk factors that may increase alcohol and drug concerns in the workplace. This could include:
working long hours
poorly managed shift work e.g. insufficient breaks or time between shifts
bullying and harassment
working alone or in isolation
workplace values and culture, especially the extent to which it is considered normal to use or be impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs at work
ease of access to alcohol and/or drugs at work
For further information watch the short 2 and half minute video from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) on alcohol and other drugs in the workplace. Read over the following fact sheets from the ADF and Drink Wise below.
Alcohol & drugs in the workplace
Write or review your policy
Use the guide and policy example below to develop or compare your own alcohol and other drugs policy.
Many industry bodies have specific information regarding alcohol and other drugs in the workplace. Make sure you are meeting requirements by finding out if your alcohol and other drugs policy is required to meet certain standards in your industry.
For many organisations and companies in your industry, trades and services may cross interstate and even international borders. When writing your policy, make sure you've accounted for requirements outside of Victoria. Look for some examples of regulation in the 'other resources' tab on this page, or contact your relevant employer and/or employee association or representative for further assistance. Some workplaces may also require further policies and requirements due to working with vehicles, heavy machinery and vessels.
For further help in reviewing or developing your own policy, VicRoads has developed a Policy Builder that has been designed for the heavy vehicle industry. You can use it to build your own alcohol and drug policy by answering a number of questions related to your workplace.
Regularly reviewing and updating your policy will make sure it addresses situations that are likely to arise in your workplace. Complete the checklist to see if you have covered the basics.
Alcohol and other drugs policy checklist
A clear statement outlining what the alcohol and drug policy is aiming to achieve
State exactly who the policy applies to; the company, branch, site/office, and range of employees each part of the policy applies to (for example, certain roles or work sites may have stricter policies)
It should be clear that the policy applies to management as well
A code of behaviour outlining when it is appropriate to consume alcohol or other drugs (such as prescription medication) at or before work. It should make clear that you need to maintain a certain standard of behaviour
Work sponsored functions and the provision of alcohol
Roles and responsibilities of leaders, employees and relevant committees to address alcohol and drug use in the workplace
Special rules for high-risk duties or professions. List all the roles and tasks that could seriously hurt people if not performed carefully. List any roles that should have alcohol and other drugs testing
Outline plans to train people in your alcohol and drug policies, and write down what will happen to people in these roles if they breach the policy
The procedure for alcohol and drug testing (only in workplaces where it's necessary)
Support services (if an Employee Assistance Program is available, outline it here)
Discipline (what counts as breaching the policy, and what the response will be, including warnings procedures)
Employers have the right to try and prevent employees coming to work affected by alcohol or other drugs when it would pose a serious risk to health and safety. In this case, testing might be needed to make sure people are not impaired when they are doing work that could put themselves, or anyone else at risk.
If testing is required in your workplace, the policy and procedure should be clearly documented and available so everyone knows about it. The checklist below shows you what a reasonable testing policy looks like.
Alcohol and other drugs testing checklist
part of a comprehensive alcohol and other drugs policy
supported by clear policy and procedures, and everyone should be given full information about what it involves, and when it will happen
involve employees to have their say on the testing policy and procedures, when employees agree with how it is done, you will get a lot more support
respect employees' privacy and confidentiality where possible
put procedures in place if an employee refuses to be tested
put procedures in place to help employees who test positive return to work when appropriate, including the future testing regime they must commit to.
before you begin testing, you must decide what the allowable results are, and tell everyone in the workplace
give employees an opportunity to self report before testing
when deciding which people to test, you must make sure you do not discriminate
before you begin testing, decide exactly who will be told about the results. No one else should be told
these confidentiality protections should also state how long the test results will be kept for
there is a grievance and complaints process, including procedures allowing people to challenge the test results
procedures are put in place to make sure anyone who tests positive is sent home safely (i.e. worker not allowed to drive a vehicle home)
Share with staff
Use your meetings, OHS committees or 'toolbox talks' to discuss your alcohol and other drugs policy and procedures. In addition, this could be done through wellness and health promotion activities. Resources below on worker wellbeing can help with understanding and starting those conversations. Think of some other ways you can discuss this with your employees - sometimes this works best in a less formal environment such as a discussion in your tearoom.
Share your alcohol and other drugs policy and procedure widely so that all employees are aware of them. In addition, you could share the resources from step 1 too. This could include:
displaying them on your notice boards
sharing through email
intranet systems or other used communication programs e.g. Slack, Skype
toolbox talks or team meetings
sharing case studies or videos
TV screens with rolling safety messages
key messages on tools, Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) or other equipment
reminders and messaging in vehicles e.g. Sun visor
on site fences e.g. condition of entry information
Make sure your employees have a chance to ask questions. You can also use these resources to raise awareness of the risks of alcohol and other drugs in the workplace.
Review the policy as per your organisations guidelines, make sure this happens regularly and ties in with your other relevant review processes such as occupational violence and aggression and prevention of bullying policies. Creating a review schedule with prompts or reminders can assist with ensuring your policies are reviewed regularly.
Tips for sharing your policy
Can we clearly explain what the policy is trying to achieve?
What are the procedures or the day-to-day tasks that need to be done to keep our workplace healthy and safe?
Who needs to do what, when and why?
What information, resources and training do employees need and how will it be provided?
How will outcomes be measured?
How often will the policy and procedures be reviewed?
How will you get employees' views on the policy?
Is there a plan to share it with your employees and make sure you understand it?
Consider the Achievement Program
Continue to improve your alcohol and other drug processes by joining the Victorian Government's Achievement Program. The Achievement Program is a way to make health and wellbeing part of daily business. You can work at your own pace, and along the way you'll be recognised by the Victorian Government as a health promoting workplace, supporting your workplace's position as an employer of choice.
Backed by evidence, it will also help you communicate your ideas to management and get your workplace leaders and colleagues on board with the initiatives you're proposing. It's also completely free. Good management of alcohol and other drugs is 1 of the 5 areas identified in the Achievement Program to create a healthy workplace.
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