Managing health and safety in the workplace is challenging; you are dealing with a multitude of both processual and behavioural factors that can lead to short term incidents and long term damage. An often overlooked variable in managing workplace health and safety is substance misuse.

Drugs and alcohol can impaired concentration and judgement. Keep reading to find out how you can minimise the risk of substance misuse in the workplaces you are responsible for.

  1. Create a misuse policy and ensure your employees are aware of it

When most people visit the UK they take notice of the prevalent drinking culture, it is used socially and often misused by many over time. Unfortunately, this can feed into our working lives as well.

Many employees are often unaware of the dangers of being intoxicated at work. Workplaces like construction sites present a number of different hazards that have the potential to cause fatal incidents. This is troubling, especially given the fact the construction workers are the most likely to commit substance misuse within the workplace.

If you create a clear policy on your approach to substance misuse you will have a strong platform on which to enforce good standards throughout the organisation. Make sure you make employees aware of this so that they know the rules to follow.

  • Monitor the working state of those in safety-critical roles

Many roles have the potential to cause bigger accidents than others, and this must be considered when looking at drugs and alcohol misuse. Pay special attention to workers operating heavy equipment, driving vehicles and operating in safety supervising roles. If their performance is impaired through substance misuse it can be detrimental to the rest of the workforce.

  • Develop the health and wellbeing side of your health and safety process

Research suggests that a lot of the time drugs and alcohol misuse is the result of underlying mental health and personal issues. With that in mind, if you can foster an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their issues it will reduce the likelihood of workers turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Not only will this improve the mental health of your workers it will also reduce the risk of serious accidents occurring due to impairment.

  • Make sure you are screening for drugs and alcohol safely and legally

Many workplaces screen for drugs and alcohol in workers as a matter of course and this preventative measure has seen success, but you need to conduct it in the right way. Make sure you have an employee’s consent to conduct the screening and have made them aware of the details of it.