Testing Times – Alcohol, Work and the Workplace

When people consider the problem of alcohol and the workplace, the common assumption is full inebriation and the use of dangerous machinery and operations. And research indicates there are “proportionally more serious injuries among those injured at work with a very high blood alcohol concentration (more than .22%)[1] While this scenario stands at one end of the alcohol and workplace continuum, the issue may be far more complex and widespread, involving not only this type of “worst-case scenario,” but other, less obvious and evident presentations.

Problems with late arrival and early leaving, absenteeism, procrastination and poor and reduced quality of work output are interwoven with excessive alcohol use, resulting in reduced business outcomes and reliabilities and profits. Even once alcohol levels have dropped to zero following heavy drinking, driving ability may still be reduced by as much as 20%[2]– having far-reaching implications for transport, maritime, defense and aviation industries.

There is no doubt research based outcomes point to the development of workplace alcohol policy as the most effective manner in which to combat and address alcohol related problems at work.[3] Clear, consultation-based written guidelines and procedures, which apply to all staff, should always be incorporated into an overall Occupational Health and Safety Strategy.

Testing can form a component of this approach, especially where there are “existing legislative provisions, or where employees, health and safety representatives, workers and unions formally agree it is warranted or held to be reasonable under the circumstances.”[4] Legislative provisions already exist in the area of commercial road transport and long haul work, rail, aviation and marine transport

Consideration of testing as a part of an alcohol at work management plan may be required as an intrinsic part of your policies and procedures. CMM Technology offers an array of testing methods such as urinalysis, saliva testing, breath testing suitable for industry and business. CMM Technology also provides FIFO (fly in-fly out onsite testing) for remote area industry.  If you require further information on premium testing methods, approaches and training, please call CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500

[1]Cited in Phillips M 2001 “The prevalence of drug use and risk of drug-related harm in the workplacein Allsop S, Phillips M & C Calogero (eds.) Drugs and work: responding to alcohol and other drug problems in Australian workplaces, Melbourne: IP Communications.

[2]The Chamber of Minerals and Energy. Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace – issues, trends and practices. Perth: Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, 1996.

[3] Pidd, K. February 21 2005. Workplace Alcohol Policy, Workplace Social Influence, and building trades apprentices’ alcohol consumption – A Paper presented to “Thinking Drinking” Conference, Melbourne. Australian Drug Foundation.

[4] Alcohol and Work, Drug Clearinghouse, Australian Drug Foundation. http:www.alcoholandworkd.adf.org.au/browse.asp?COntainerID=preventing_work_problems

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