One in four workers in the UK have admitted doing their job while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, a survey has claimed.

A poll of 1,500 employees found that a quarter of them had drunk alcohol or taken drugs and then attempted to work. As well as the obvious health and safety issues, working under the influence is likely to lead to mistakes, lower productivity and poor customer service.

Whether staff have gone back to work after a boozy lunch over the Christmas period or they have an ongoing issue with alcohol or substance misuse, it is vital that employers put a clear anti-drugs and alcohol policy in place.

One of the first steps to making sure your staff know they cannot work under the influence of drugs or alcohol is to introduce a policy making it clear they will be disciplined for bringing substances onto the premises or consuming them during their working day. Make it clear what you consider to be unacceptable and acceptable behaviour – for example you may be happy for colleagues to toast a successful project with a single glass of wine but not for people to get drunk in the workplace.

The survey was commissioned by ELAS, which gives employment law advice. The research also found that one in five people have driven to work while feeling they were likely to be over the legal drink-drive limit.

The situation was worst in the capital with 32% of workers in London confessing that they had worked while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. And 30% of employees in the West Midlands had been intoxicated on the job followed by 27% in Yorkshire and Humber.

The most sober workforces were found in Northern Ireland and the East Midlands where just 15% of people had gone to work while still affected by alcohol or drugs.

Tests can help maintain safety in workplace
Danny Clarke, head of Occupational Health and Safety at ELAS, said: “A quarter of UK workers admitting to working whilst intoxicated creates massive safety implications. Employers must step-up and take action to ensure safe working practices at all times.

“This is particularly important for industries where workers are required to operate machinery, transport or come in to contact with the public. Ideally, companies should have a policy relating to alcohol and drugs that may include testing procedures which are seen as best-practice in all industries.

In those where the consequences could be fatal, having a testing procedure is the best way to safeguard against liability and ensure safety on site is maintained.”

AlphaBiolabs offers workplace drug and alcohol testing for employers who need to carry out regular spot checks on staff or who suspect certain individuals may be misusing substances.

Whether your business needs to carry out random testing of the workforce or you need tests as part of an investigation into an incident which has taken place, AlphaBiolabs can help. The company also offers pre-employment screening.