Health and Safety at Work - Substance Misuse
Health and safety in the workplace is not just confined to those accidents and incidents which happen in the place of work. Managers must also ensure that those who come into work are in a fit state to perform the tasks demanded of them, as a failure to do so can result in serious accidents which adversely affect not only themselves but also has the potential to kill or injure others nearby. This is a particular issue when the worker has a task such as operating machinery, driving moving vehicles or monitoring the condition of hazardous substances.
Substance misuse, either from alcohol or other legal or illegal substances such as drugs, can seriously impair motor skills and a person's judgement. It can also lead to an increase in staff absenteeism if people feel too unwell to come into work, which can have serious financial consequences for the company as they have to arrange cover for the absent worker or suffer a reduction in output. Whilst it is a financial headache for the company, it may be preferable in some ways if the person stays away rather than comes to work and tries to do their job where they may make a mistake and have/cause an accident.
Managers also need to ensure that this abuse does not happen in the place of work itself. Many companies will have a strict no drinking of alcohol policy anywhere on the premises, whilst the partaking of many types of drugs will be illegal whether it is at work or not. If a worker is engaged in this practice, they may be perfectly fine when a manager or supervisor sees them as they arrive for work, but will then not be in a competent state to work later on. Effective monitoring and supervision of employees needs to take place, even if it is just a quick chat every now and again throughout the day, as well as making it clear that this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable and will result in instant dismissal from the company.
Along with health and safety issues associated with hazardous substances that are covered by coshh regulations, the misuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs is covered on NEBOSH General Certificate courses, more details of which can be obtained by clicking here.