Employers and all employees including managers, supervisors, safety and health and union representatives all have a role in preventing alcohol-related harm and developing a fitness for work alcohol policy.
Implementing a fitness for work alcohol policy requires a gradual and informed introduction of change. The process, timing and overall support for policy implementation is critical to the credibility, acceptance and effectiveness of your policy.
In implementing a fitness for work alcohol policy the following is required:1
A key step in the implementation phase is addressing the workplace hazards and conditions identified in the workplace risk and needs assessment that may contribute to alcohol use in/or related to the workplace.
This may involve immediate action to remove identified workplace hazards or a process of identifying appropriate workplace strategies to reduce workplace risks in consultation with employees.
Developing a workplace fitness for work alcohol policy requires a commitment from the employer and all employees, including management, supervisors and safety and health representatives.
The implementation of a fitness for work alcohol policy will vary from one workplace to another.
The approach your workplace undertakes will impact on the credibility and likelihood of acceptance and compliance within the workplace. To be effective, the policy needs to be developed through:
To assist workplaces in developing a fitness for work alcohol policy, a set of fact sheets has been developed; What is the process for developing a Fitness for Work Alcohol Policy and Considerations for Inclusion in a Fitness for Work Alcohol Policy.
A fitness for work alcohol policy should be supported by :
Information, education and training is central to a 'whole-of workplace' health and safety approach to the prevention and management of alcohol-related harm.
Raising the awareness of the policy, the timeframe for implementation and employees participation in education and training is important and can be achieved through:
Information about the availability of support, counselling and treatment services e.g. Employee Assistance Programs, Community Drug and Alcohol Services and general counselling and treatment services and how to access them should be widely disseminated throughout the workplace.
Regular and ongoing education and training provided through workplace orientation and induction and workplace safety and health programs can support the implementation of, acceptance and compliance with a fitness for work alcohol policy by:
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.
Managers, supervisors and safety and health personnel will require specific training about the policy and the procedures for identifying, reporting and managing fitness for work alcohol-related issues.
Workplace education and training programs should address:3
Employers and employees all have a role in preventing alcohol-related harm and implementing the fitness for work alcohol policy and procedures in the workplace.
For the policy to be effectively implemented ongoing communication and feedback between the employer, employees and their representatives is important.
Promoting mechanisms for open communication and ongoing feedback through consultation, information sessions, meetings, electronic networks and other media ensures that issues can be addressed as they arise.
Ongoing communication and feedback will also enable the identification of procedures that require modification and new strategies that may need to be adopted to meet changing conditions and circumstances within the workplace.
1 Allsop, S., Pillips, M. and Calogero, C. (2001). Drugs and work: responding to alcohol and other drug problems in Australian workplaces. Melbourne. Australia.
3 Commission for Occupational Health and Safety. (2008). Guidance Note Alcohol and Other drugs at the Workplace. MIAC. Government of Western Australia.
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