Drugs and alcohol in the workplace

The safe management of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is also an employee’s responsibility.

In our blogs we often look at drugs and alcohol in the workplace from the employer’s perspective. However, it can certainly be argued that the safe use of drugs and alcohol at work is even more important for employees. After all, they’re the ones that can be hurt and potentially killed if something goes wrong.

According to Safe Work Australia, alcohol and drugs (including some medicines prescribed by your doctor and available over the counter) can affect a person’s ability to safely work. And, of course, it’s not just employers who need to ensure drugs and alcohol in the workplace are not causing issues.

Employees also have a legal obligation, a duty of care, to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, this means not being under the influence while in the workplace and ensuring they are fit and safety to be on the job.

Drugs and alcohol in the workplace not on

Safe Work Australia has produced a video that portrays the need for a workplace free of drugs and alcohol from an employee’s perspective.

It features Jonno, a carpenter, who’s well aware of the need to be healthy, fit and ready to be at work.

“I’ve worked pretty hard to get where I am and things are going pretty good right now. And I want to keep it that way by keeping my workplace safe. If you come on to this work site under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you not only put myself at risk, you put everyone else at risk and you also put yourself at risk.

“If you’re hungover, you’re stone or you’re high, stay at home. And if there’s any of your mates that are on the job site that are stone, high or hungover, tell them to do the right thing. Stop work and go home. And if they don’t listen to you, go and speak to the site supervisor or the safety manager.

“There’s no place for drugs or alcohol on our worksite.”

Drugs and alcohol in the workplace – employers

While there are laws and regulations dealing with drugs and alcohol in the workplace for some jobs, for the most part it falls on workplaces to develop their own policies. As Safe Work Australia says, this is particularly important if employees could kill or seriously injure themselves, another employee or a member of the public.

Having a robust drug and alcohol in the workplace policy in place and managing the risk of drugs and alcohol in the workplace not only makes sense for employees, it also protects employers and the bottom line.


The safe management of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is also an employee’s responsibility. Credit Michael Coghlan https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/14196338098/

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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