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Alcohol and Drugs at Work

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

As the holiday season kicks in and Christmas parties fill the social calendar, striking a balance between festive cheer and workplace professionalism is crucial. These events provide an excellent opportunity for team bonding, but concerns arise when the party atmosphere spills into the professional sphere, especially when they have the potential to create extra hazards in the workplace. Navigating this balance requires thoughtful planning and clear communication to ensure everyone can enjoy the festivities responsibly, safeguarding both workplace culture and the well-being of team members.


How long do drugs & alcohol stay in your system?


Everyone works hard and we know people want to party hard, however you do need

to remember that alcohol and drugs can remain in your system and into working hours

the following day. If this happens, you can be putting yourself, your co-workers and the

public in danger, especially if you are on the roads driving or engaged in safety- critical

work.


It is recommended that you limit your alcohol or drug intake if you know you will be working the following day. It takes a standard alcohol beverage an average of

2 hours to be removed from your system.


Alcohol


If you are having several beverages ensure that you are giving your body plenty of time to remove the alcohol and remember to re-hydrate before going to bed.


Recreational & Prescription Drugs


Drugs are a lot slower to be removed from your system. THC from Cannabis can take 7-30 days to be fully removed from your body. Other drugs such as Methamphetamine can stay in your system for 3-6 days, MDMA remains for 3-4 days and Codeine remains in your body for a day.


If you are taking prescription medication it is ideal to discuss the effects of them with your doctor. If the prescription could effect your ability at work let your supervisor know so they can adjust your work to suit.


When taking these substances you need to think about how it could effect your work life and the work life of your work mates.


What if I feel worse for wear in the morning?


If you do wake up in the morning feeling a bit worse for wear or your reactions and

attention span are slower than normal, it is important to let your supervisor know that

you are not fit for work. Alcohol can affect your sleep and increases the risk of fatigue.


The supervisor should consider your condition and either adjust your task or the day to one that may be less hazardous, or if you are unable to be reallocated discuss the possibility of having the day off.


It is important that you communicate with your supervisor and co-workers if you are feeling unfit for work. They may be annoyed that you have come to work in a position where you cannot work to the best of your ability, however they will be happy that you have communicated your position and have thought about the hazard and risk that you could be bringing to the job and to them.


It is better that you communicate any uncertainty to perform, prior to work being undertaken, rather than having an incident occur.


If you are in a role of driving in public it is especially important that you are vigilant with your drug and alcohol consumption. If you have an accident in public and injure or kill somebody the effect it can have on yourself, mentally and physically, can be seriously damaging. The company reputation is likely to be impacted by negative

media.



Company Event Management


When it comes to work events, be sure to set clear expectations around acceptable behaviour, select venues that promote a positive and professional atmosphere, schedule your parties to be outside of working hours as possible and consider scheduling for nights when employees may have a few days to recover properly after events if there is alcohol provided.


Provide transportation options either through directly providing transport after the event, or encouraging the use of designated drivers, rideshare services, or public transportation.


Provide non-alcoholic beverage options for those who want to feel included but choose not drink. Events that aren't centred around drinking are also fun and helpful in this regard. Consider team bonding venues and activities as a fun alternative or addition to parties.


Have designated responsible people such as team leaders and HR representatives present to address any issues that may arise in a prompt manner.


Remember, the goal is to celebrate and create a positive environment without compromising the workplace safety or social atmosphere. By setting clear expectations and providing guidance, you can ensure that holiday parties remain enjoyable and safe for everyone.


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