Often when we are talking with employers about drug and alcohol testing we hear the comment “If I drug tested my workers I would not have any”. This is frequently accompanied with a ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ and a chuckle.
Whilst it may seem humorous at first, it is actually a very scary and serious comment, because what is actually being said here is that “I am aware that there is an issue with drugs and alcohol at work, but I am going to choose to ignore it”. And what is being missed here is an understanding of the huge ramifications this could have for the business. Let’s explore this further.
Drug and alcohol misuse is a well-known risk factor for workplaces. In fact, did you know:
So, whilst it may be tempting to put your head in the sand, ignoring it will not make it less of a risk.
Under WHS laws employers have a duty of care to manage risks to the health and safety of their workforce and those who interact with their business, such as suppliers, customers and public. Failure to do so can lead to significant fines and prosecution, even including possible jail time. If there is an accident in the workplace and someone is hurt or (touch wood) killed, an investigation will ensue and your systems for risk management and safety will be scrutinised, including owners and managers’ attitude to safety. It’s at this moment an employer may seriously regret uttering that phrase.
Certainly no laughing matter at all!
To protect yourself and your business, it is critical to have a robust drug and alcohol management system in place to appropriately manage this known risk. At a minimum, it should include a policy and detailed procedure outlining how the risk will be managed. It absolutely must allow for drug and alcohol testing of workers and, depending upon the industry and risk, include an ongoing testing regime. Further, it should include education, training and support for your workforce.
If you are not sure where to start, contact us to discuss. With over 20 years experience our experts will guide you through the obstacles, skilfully navigating to keep your business safe from the dangers of drugs and alcohol in the workplace.