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The importance of drug & alcohol awareness training for businesses

Alcohol and drug misuse is widespread in our society, so it’s hardly surprising that it significantly impacts businesses across all sectors.

According to a report published by the CIPD*, which cited a study by the British Medical Association (BMA), ‘individuals in employment are more likely to drink frequently compared to those who are unemployed’, while people in managerial or professional occupations drink more frequently than those in manual roles.

The same BMA study found that certain aspects of work were more likely to be associated with alcohol or illicit drug use, including night shifts, travelling for work, job stress and a lack of supervision.

In this article, AlphaBiolabs partner and occupational safety and health expert, Dr Lucy Wright, looks at the importance of drug and alcohol awareness training for businesses, what effective awareness training should cover, and what information should be included in a company’s substance misuse policy.

Table of contents
  • Why is drug and alcohol awareness training important for businesses?
  • What should drug and alcohol awareness training include?
  • What should a workplace drug and alcohol/substance misuse policy cover?
  • Where can I get drug and alcohol testing for my business?

Why is drug and alcohol awareness training important for businesses?

Drug and alcohol awareness training, such as that offered by AlphaBiolabs, is fundamental for businesses looking to implement a successful substance misuse policy, including drug and alcohol testing.

Not only does it reinforce the company’s stance towards drugs and alcohol, but it also ensures that staff at all levels are able to recognise the signs of alcohol or drug use.

Substance abuse is no respecter of rank or salary, so it’s important that awareness training is carried out at all levels in the organisation.

What should drug and alcohol awareness training include?

The most effective drug and alcohol awareness training sessions will cover:

Company policy

What is the company policy on drug and alcohol misuse, who does it apply to, which testing methods does the company use e.g. breath, urine, oral fluid (saliva) testing, and how will the company handle any breach of policy?

The risks associated with substance misuse

What are the risks involved with misusing alcohol or drugs in the workplace? How can substance misuse impact colleagues, customers, and the public?

The signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug use

What are the signs to look out for that could indicate a colleague is struggling with drug and/or alcohol misuse?

Employee rights and responsibilities

What rights do employees have when it comes to drug and/or alcohol testing? For example, can an employee refuse a drug and/or alcohol test?

The company’s responsibility

Outlining the company’s duty of care to its employees, including applicable legislation.

Any counselling and/or support available to staff struggling with drug and/or alcohol dependency

Does the company have an Employee Assistance Programme in place, or another form of employee support that allows for psychological and welfare support?

What should a workplace drug and alcohol/substance misuse policy cover?

Under Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999), employers have a duty to assess any risks to their employees’ health and safety, with employees also expected to take care of themselves, and others who could be impacted by what they do at work.

When reviewing your policy, think about why it is exists in the first place and ensure your reasoning for implementing testing is clear in the document.

It can also be beneficial to involve employees in the creation of your policy, either via unions or workplace representatives, so that no-one is left in any doubt as to why it is necessary.

At the very least, your policy should cover:

  • How your organisation will manage employees who have received a non-negative test result
  • How your organisation will support employees who come forward with a substance abuse issue prior to testing
  • Drug and alcohol testing methods and frequency of testing
  • Laboratory confirmations for non-negative test results – this will re-enforce that the test results are legitimate, should an employee choose to contest the results in court

Where can I get drug and alcohol testing for my business?

There are many options available for drug and alcohol testing, from planned testing to Random, For Cause, Pre-employment and Post Rehab/Return to work testing, using a variety of test samples including urine, nails, hair, breath, and saliva.

Each has its own advantages. However, random testing is by far the best way of demonstrating your organisation’s commitment to occupational safety and health.

If you’re planning to implement random testing, it is important to ensure that testing is indeed carried out in a genuinely random manner, and by people who are fully trained in sample collection.

Partnering with a reputable UKAS-accredited testing laboratory like AlphaBiolabs, which has a nationwide network of trained sample collectors available to carry out random testing, is also hugely beneficial.

For support with drug and alcohol testing, including assistance with policy creation and review, as well as drug and alcohol awareness training, call the AlphaBiolabs’ Workplace team on 0333 600 1300 (select option 2) or email workplace@alphabiolabs.com.

Alternatively, request a quote, and a member of our Workplace team will be in touch to discuss your bespoke package.

Get a quote for workplace drug and alcohol testing

Request a quote today and a member of our Workplace team will be in touch to discuss your needs.

Last reviewed: 21/07/2022
Dr Lucy Wright

Dr Lucy Wright

AlphaBiolabs partner & OSH expert

Dr Lucy Wright has over 30 years’ experience working in occupational safety and health (OSH).

Although she has now retired from clinical work, her previous roles include 10 years as Regional Medical Director (Europe) for BP, and nine years as Chief Medical Officer for Optima Health.

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