Guidelines tackle alcohol and drugs at work

By Adam Coleman

WorkCover NSW has launched revised guidelines to tackle alcohol and other drug use in the workplace to help employers identify and manage the risks.

According to WorkCover NSW CEO, Jon Blackwell,  the guide provides practical and workable solutions, and encourages employers to manage risks associated with drug and alcohol use by adopting a preventative approach.

“The misuse of alcohol and drugs at work is a significant concern for workers and employers, and can contribute to productivity losses; absenteeism and lateness; anti-social behaviour, and unlawful contact,” he says.

Mr Blackwell says the changes are designed to “protect workers by ensuring they are consulted as part of the development of a workplace drug and alcohol program”.

WorkCover NSW Occupational Health and Safety Department – general manager, John Watson told the guide is about preventing a drug or alcohol related situation from developing in the workplace.

“Most employers don’t actually try and deal with the issue, until they are confronted with a breakdown in their workplace and they have an employee who has turned up drunk to the workplace three times,” he says.
“Do a lot of work with your employees, that is consult with them about what the expectations are about drugs and alcohol in the workplace, what’s going to happen when people are unable to work or place others at risk and how that is going to be dealt with.”

He also suggests employers recognise that often people have problems in life that lead them to the abuse of drugs and alcohol.

“Have a plan in other words. Make sure the plan is known by the employees so the expectations of the employees about how they will be dealt with can be met and the understanding is there,” Mr Watson says.

He believes there is an opportunity for NSW government departments to be exemplary in respect to how they deal with alcohol and drugs in the workplace.

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