alcohol &
the workplace

Does your company have an alcohol and workplace policy? Are there any rules regarding alcohol and drug abuse at work in your country? Drugs and alcohol are a common problem with employees and this creates a dangerous and unsafe workplace environment. Let’s take a look at the situation in the US, the UK and Canada.

united states

It is estimated that up to 40% of all employees are dealing with alcohol, drugs and workplace problems. Released statistical data shows that drugs and alcohol play a role in up to 60% of the more serious on the job injuries. Up to 20% of employees who are killed in work related accidents have positive blood tests for alcohol or other illegal substances.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stated that workers who are using alcohol or drugs are creating dangerous workplace hazards for themselves and others. One of the ways of helping create safe work environments for all employees is by mandating and enforcing programs and rules that support a drug free workplace. The creation of any program to identify drug users must take into account all employee’s right to privacy.

The program must be reasonable and deal with drug, alcohol, and workplace safety issues. The correct approaches to these programs contain policies for educating and training management, educating and notifying employees, and both mandatory and voluntary drug testing.

There must also be drug treatment programs available to the employees. Employers can find assistance with creating their workplace programs through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

There is also online information and guidelines at This site covers many questions concerning drug testing policies. The US is not alone when it comes to having to deal with employees’ abuse of alcohol and workplace issues regarding the dangers of this abuse. Employees in the UK who are abusing these drugs are costing companies millions of hours in lost work time and production. Alcohol alone is responsible for 5-10% of all employee absences.

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united kingdom

UK employers are becoming more proactive in their fight to secure a safe workplace for all employees.

Drug screening is becoming more common and some of the largest companies are making it a mandatory part of employment.

There is also a great deal of employee education underway to teach people about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Managers are also being called upon to act as role models and set good examples.

In the UK I offer an advisory service to employers that have concerns about alcoholism in the workplace. It can cost thousands of pounds to recruit key members of staff; sometimes helping someone to overcome an alcohol problem can be a better solution for both the company and the employee. The alternative is to lose that individuals knowledge and skills (or do nothing and risk an accident or injury at work) You can contact me for more information by clicking here


In Canada there is great importance being placed on employees’ rights to privacy.

Pre-employment drug testing is generally not allowed unless employers can show due cause as to why it should be done.

Random drug testing of employees is generally not allowed, but can be done to help identify at risk employees in sensitive work areas like heavy equipment operators or commercial truck drivers.

It is necessary under Canadian law for the employer to prove that drug, alcohol and workplace safety issues are being handled fairly for the employee. Even then, employers must have policies in place to offer help to the employees who test positive, or admit to drug and alcohol problems.

Canadian law also mandates that any work policies regarding drug use and possible testing must be clear and easy to understand by all employees. These policies must be reasonable and employers must have substance help and assistance programs available for all employees.