In the run up to the World Cup, the deals on alcohol have been in full swing in most of the major supermarkets. The summer tournament for many signifies early finishes and drinks in hand whilst praying for England to reign victorious!
Many of the games are on weeknights and whilst there is no harm in having a few beers and watching the game, if employees are drinking excessively this can affect their ability to drive into work the next day and to carry out their roles safely once they arrive.
You have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your employees. If you knowingly allow an employee under the influence of excess alcohol to continue working and this places the employee or others at risk, you could be prosecuted. Similarly, your employees are also required to take reasonable care of themselves and others who could be affected by what they do.
Often drinking alcohol is a positive part of life (especially where football is involved) and does not cause any problems, however, if employees drink so much as to be over the limit the following day this could lead to accidents at work. This is where a good drugs and alcohol policy will come in handy. Your policy should include:
- how the organisation expects employees to limit their drinking;
- how problem drinking will be recognised and help offered; and
- at what point and in what circumstances you will treat an employee’s drinking as a matter for discipline rather than as a health problem.
Some employers adopt alcohol screening as part of their alcohol policy. If you think you want to introduce this you must think very carefully about what screening you want to do, and what you will do with the information it generates.
Whilst it is easy to get carried away in the excitement surrounding the tournament and in the hope that this time England will succeed, it may be a good idea to re-iterate your drugs and alcohol policy to your employees and ensure they understand the rules and what is expected of them.
By Rachel Cuff CMIOSH – Risk Consultant