Employers have a legal duty to protect employee’s health, safety and welfare. Understanding the signs of alcohol and drug misuse will help you manage the health and safety risk in your place of work.
Substance abuse includes using alcohol and drugs. In a high-risk industry such as the construction industry, drink, drugs and work DO NOT mix. Statistically a construction worker is six times more likely to be killed at work then someone in another industry. Combine this with alcohol and drug abuse and it can increase the dangers further leading to accidents and possible fatalities.
But substance abuse is not only confined to the construction industry, t also happens in the workplace on a daily basis leading to absenteeism and decreased productivity as well as increased physical injuries and fatalities. Those under the influence of drink or drugs are not only posing a risk to themselves but to EVERY employee on site. DO NOT let them put you at risk!
Drug and alcohol misuse impact on brain function reducing levels of awareness, alertness and slow down reaction times. This means people drinking alcohol or taking drugs are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else.
Most addicts will try and hide their drink and drug use from colleagues. But there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. Someone abusing drugs might start to behave differently from their other work colleagues.
- They may avoid people and irrationally blame them for personal mistakes.
- There maybe be a decline in personal hygiene and appearance.
- They will openly talk about money issues.
- They might complain about failing relationships at home
- They might take time off for random illnesses or family issues
If you are suspected of being under the influence of drink and drugs at work, you will be sent home or off site and face the possibility of disciplinary action. Ultimately you could lose your job and a reputation of having a drink / drug problems could make finding other employment extremely difficult.
Make yourself familiar with the signs of drug use which include watery eyes, pinpoint or dilated pupils, running nose, constant sniffing, tight lips, sore ulcers, trembling, fatigue and irritability. If you see such signs at work, then report it and help eliminate a serious risk. Ignore it and it could be you that gets hurt!
You should also be aware of prescribed drugs as well as illegal drugs. Some prescribed drugs can cause drowsiness. Be responsible…. If you or someone you know are on certain prescribed drugs advise your site manager.
Don’t get drunk the night before and expect to work safely on site the next day. Alcohol takes time to work its way out of the system. As a rough guide it takes one hour for each unit of alcohol to leave your body. A single unit of alcohol equates to a single spirit, glass of wine or ½ pint of beer. If you were to drink 8 pints of beer and stopped drinking at midnight, all of the alcohol would not be dispelled from your body until 4pm the following day!
Confine your drinking to social occasions where there is suitable recovery time. If drugs are offered just say NO! As well as creating a risk in the workplace, drink and drug abuse will damage your body.
Substance abusers not only effect themselves but affect other employees. Up to 40% of industrial fatalities and 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism. DO NOT BECOME A STATISTIC
If you are having any issues with substance abuse, you are entitled to NHS care in the same way as anyone else who has a health problem. Discuss your problems with your GP and they can get you the appropriate treatment. Or alternately visit one of the contacts below.
FRANK – Frank offers confidential support and advise on drugs https://www.talktofrank.com
DRINKAWARE – An independent UK wide alcohol education charity which works with others to help reduce alcohol related harm by helping people make better choices about their drinking.