Drugs and Alcohol 

Employees adversely affected by the use of alcohol and other drugs can pose a risk to themselves and others in the workplace. Alcohol and other drug use, whether it occurs in or away from the workplace, becomes an occupational health and safety issue. Because it may impact an employee’s ability to exercise judgment, coordination, motor control, concentration and alertness at work. An organisation has not just a moral duty to protect all of its stakeholders but a legal one as well. Occupational health and safety laws are designed to ensure everyone in the workplace is protected. This includes independent contractors engaged by an employer and any employees of the independent contractor. 

The OHS Act (2011) requires employees to take reasonable care for their own health and safety in the workplace and the health and safety of others who may be affected by their behaviour. This includes ensuring they are not, as a result of alcohol or other drugs, affected in a way that may put themselves or others at risk. 

In an organisation’s code of behaviour or code of conduct the general terms of the organisations drug and alcohol policy will be stated, however many organisations have specific detailed policies covering this subject. If a team member is impaired and still works it may place them or others around them at a higher risk of harm if it is not managed appropriately. Many organisations have a zero limit on consumption of drugs or alcohol. 

It is important that these policies are communicated clearly to all team members on a regular basis as without clear guidelines confusions could arise should a team member be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Also important to note that not all impairment is immediately obvious nor is it from a deliberate action. Impairment can be the case of incidental exposure to substances and or side effects to prescription medication that the team member may not be aware of.



Harrison has spent all night drinking Sunday night and is now feeling hungover Monday morning, he thinks he feels ok and has arrived at work for his shift as a forklift driver.

His coworkers report to his manager at lunch time that he is not pulling his weight at work and on further review it can be seen that he’s made many mistakes all morning and almost hit a customer earlier that morning.

Harrison may have been affected by the alcohol still in his system from the night before and or have been affected by a loss of sleep as well. This combination can create a deadly hazard to both himself and those around him