Implementing a range of responses, tailored to the specific conditions, needs and resources of your workplace are more likely to have an impact and support the development of a safe workplace culture around alcohol.
Developing a fitness for work alcohol policy is part of a "whole of workplace" health and safety approach to the prevention and management of alcohol-related harm in or related to the workplace.
Whether your workplace has identified a potential alcohol-related risk, has existing procedures and practices but no formalised policy or has an existing policy that requires improving or updating, considerations at each phase of the policy cycle should be addressed to effectively meet your workplace needs.
For further information see the Fitness for Work Alcohol Policy Section.
Workplace health promotion aims to improve and promote the health and well-being of employers and employees through awareness raising and education aimed at behavioural change, risk or harm prevention and changes to the workplace environment1.
Investing in workplace health promotion can have a positive impact on your workplace. Incorporating the prevention and management of alcohol-related harm within broader workplace health and well-being programs and supporting healthy lifestyle choices can motivate behavioural change in reducing levels of risky alcohol consumption12.
Workplace health promotion should be tailored to the unique needs of the workplace and may include:
Providing education and training is central to a ‘whole-of workplace’ health and safety approach to the prevention and management of alcohol-related harm.
Education and training sessions and programs can be an effective strategy for your workplace. When incorporated into regular and ongoing workplace initiatives, targeted education and training:
To be effective, education and training programs need to be targeted at your individual workplace needs, adaptable to changing workplace circumstances and tailored for all employees.
Accessing support, counselling and treatment services is an important component of a workplace response to managing alcohol-related harm and issues3.
This may be encouraged as part of a workplace ‘fitness for work’ approach or procedure or a strategy within a workplace alcohol policy for providing assistance to employees with concerns regarding their own or someone else’s alcohol use.
Raising awareness of support services and how to access them is central to a ‘whole of workplace’ approach to managing alcohol-related harm and issues in/or related to the workplace. Support services are provided through:
For a comprehensive listing of the alcohol and other drug services across Western Australia visit the Drug and Alcohol Office website or use this alternative resource to locate a relative support service near you.
Testing should be considered as part of a broader ‘whole-of-workplace’ approach in preventing and managing alcohol-related harm in and/or related to the workplace1.
Some workplaces have adopted workplace alcohol testing as a strategy to identify alcohol-affected employees and address ‘fitness for work’ issues including safety and productivity.
Workplace testing is a complex issue and as a stand-alone strategy will probably not be sufficient to effectively cultivate cultural change in/or related to the workplace1.
Workplace testing focuses on individual employees rather than addressing the workplace culture around alcohol and unexpected and negative impacts on morale and productivity may result4.
Workplace testing for alcohol, through breath analysis, measures the level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which is related to intoxication and likely impairment 34. However, alcohol testing cannot measure the impairment that may arise from “hangover effects” (at zero BAC), which may also decrease work performance and/or increase time off work 4.
For testing to be accurate and correct, effectively maintained equipment needs to be used; poor equipment may lead to inaccurate tests results4.
“There are no provisions in the OSH Act that requires alcohol and other drug testing, employers therefore have a choice whether to test, if risk assessments show particular risks in this regard”5.
When considering whether testing is a feasible workplace strategy, the rationale should form part of a broader ‘whole-of-workplace’ approach and be guided by the level of alcohol and related risk in the workplace15.
The suitability of testing as a “fitness for work” measure should be assessed in relation to the type of industry, the workplace environment, safety including the nature of the job and tasks undertaken. The workplace profile including, employee consumption patterns, the relevance of these patterns to workplace safety and assessing the extent and nature of alcohol-related risk to workplace safety also needs to be considered4.
Workplace testing for alcohol may not achieve desired behavioural change.
Key considerations for implementing workplace testing include45:
1 Pidd,K. and Roche, A. (2013). Policy Talk. Workplace alcohol and other drug programs: What is good practice? Australian Drug Foundation.
2 Healthier Workplaces WA. Plan Do Review, Three Simple Steps to a Healthier Workplace.
3 Allsop,S., Phillips, M. and Calogero, C. (2001). Drugs and work: responding to alcohol and other drug problems in Australian workplaces. Melbourne. Australia.
4 Pidd, K. and Roche, A.M. (2011). Workplace drug testing: Evidence and issues. National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), Flinders University, Adelaide.
5 Commission for Occupational Health and Safety. (2008). Guidance Note Alcohol and Other drugs at the Workplace. MIAC.6. National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA). (2010). Workplace Drug & Alcohol Use Information & Data Series, Information Data Sheet 4. Drug Testing as a response to Alcohol and Other Drug Issues in the Workplace. Flinders University.
Call the Alcohol and Drug Support Line on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 toll free for country callers.
For emergencies call the 000 emergency line.