Safety at Work

Health and Safety in festival season

Issues relating to alcohol and drug use cost Australian workplaces an estimated $6 billion a year, mainly arising from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries in the workplace and death. As we approach the festive season it's a good time to think about how your own workplace, as well as those within your community, can organise safe parties.

Workplaces represent the perfect environment to target the working population given the substantial amount of time employees spend there.

Similarly, communities can encourage local workplaces or even their own workplace to consider how they can prevent AOD problems by implementing the following best practice 4-stage model:

  • Develop and communicate a formal workplace policy on substance use
  • Provide ongoing education and training for employees
  • Provide access to counselling and treatment to affected employees
  • Evaluate the policy
As employers prefer to consult with experts in unfamiliar areas, the Australian Drug Foundation helps workplaces develop AOD programs and policies as well as offers a number of related products, such as online AOD training for employees called ADF Aware.

Case study: Changing a workplace drinking culture

What's the issue?

A large national organisation decided to change their relationship with alcohol and associated culture amid ongoing negative publicity about the misuse and abuse of alcohol.

And the solution?

The organisation worked with the Australian Drug Foundation to develop a better alcohol culture by first conducting an organisation-wide review of its existing alcohol culture across all offices in Australia and New Zealand. The process involved surveying all employees, holding focus groups with various management positions and engaging an independent consultant to conduct a physical audit of the work environments. The organisation used the collated data to implement changes designed to improve its drinking culture and reputation.

They established a working group consisting of employees from each office at different managerial positions in order to represent attitudes across the board. The working group developed a tailored alcohol policy which was implemented organisation-wide as well as providing input into a training package.

The new policy insisted all new workers completed the training program while existing employees were expected to participate in alcohol education and awareness annually to reinforce the new culture.

Finally, they implemented event management protocols to reduce the number of incidents occurring at the various workplace events held throughout the year.

What next?

To read more, visit Drug Info.

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