SUBSTANCE ABUSE POLICY FOR THE WORKPLACE SECTION 3
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, 1974, Section 2(2)(e) imposes a duty on an employer to ensure:
‘…the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.’
Effectively, substance abuse problems in the workplace can be considered a health and safety issue.
Consider, for example, the physical and legal consequences of allowing an employee to operate or drive a large piece of equipment whilst under the influence of alcohol.
Given that it takes one hour for the human body to process one unit of alcohol, (unit = half a pint of beer, a single measure of spirits or one glass of wine) then it is possible to see that an individual can be over the legal limit well into the next day following a drinking session. The implementation of a formal policy then, not only provides a safe environment for the workforce, but also ensures that the employer is fulfilling his health and safety responsibilities.
3.1 Staff and Drugs
Staff should only be in possession of medical drugs for their own use. The use of medical drugs should only be for medical purposes whilst performing their duties. The supply of medical drugs to others is not acceptable.
The possession, use or supply of illegal drugs is not acceptable.
Staff when performing their duties to their full potential should not be under the influence of any drugs except for medical purposes.
Every workplace should develop and maintain a smoking policy which defines the position as to the use of tobacco.
Any member of staff who requires help and support to address a personal drug problem (including alcohol) should receive it with the aim of helping the member of staff to continue performing his/her professional duties.
Draft the substance abuse policy and guidelines for implementation, evaluation and monitoring.
Send out draft for comment and consultation;
Give staff at least twelve weeks written notice of the proposed change of conditions and ask for their comments;
Set up working parties to implement the policy within an agreed timescale.
Train managers in relevant issues;
Put in place strategies (e.g., counselling) to support staff who may become identified as having problems adapting to the new regime;
Initiate a monitoring procedure.
3.3 Scope Of A Substance Abuse Policy
The written policy should clearly explain the reasoning behind it;
All rules should be clearly explained with statements as to permitted exceptions;
Outline at this stage those managers who will be responsible for implementation and monitoring, also procedures to be used;
Outline a timescale for each point in the policy implementation process.
3.4 Policy Statement
This policy identifies employers with regard to drugs education, the management of drug related issues, staff development and work with employees and the community.
This is a drug using society and therefore it follows that people will have access to drugs and may use them.
The workplace in working with all employees should emphasise the importance of fulfilling potential, being healthy, and achieving full personal and social potential.
Trust and mutual respect should be the basis for relationships between educators and all employees. Staff need to have an understanding of drugs and drug issues so that they can make appropriate decisions when teaching, informing, supporting and counselling employees. In addition, staff should be aware of:
the moral and value framework outlined in this policy;
the legal position;
the policy on managing drug related issues;
the aims and approaches to drugs education;
the policy for equal opportunities;
At all times staff must work within the law;
The only acceptable drug use in workplace establishments is for medical purposes.
Workplaces should care for their staff by providing education, training, guidance and support.
Each workplace must agree its values and state them clearly in the written policy. Staff should, at all times, attempt to work within the agreed values.
An ethos which actively promotes self esteem and a sensitivity towards the feelings of others will be contributing significantly to the health and well-being of all people.
Care should be taken to ensure that individual behaviour is compatible with the agreed values of the establishment.
3.6 Values And Moral Framework
Drugs education and the management of any drugs issues, like all other aspects of human activity, must be set within a system of values.
Values such as respect for self and others, love, caring, personal responsibility, justice, honesty, empathy and hope are of ultimate concern and help to support a society which encompasses the development of healthy lifestyles and healthy relationships.
The extent to which these values are applied will define the degree to which a moral framework exists. All work with employees must be underpinned by these values and employees should be helped to clarify their own values as they develop as unique individuals within a society.
3.7 Staff Knowledge And Understanding
All staff should have access to relevant information about drugs and drug use. Training should be provided for staff and workplaces may wish to develop a reference library giving a source of information. Staff need to be aware of community-based agencies and sources of support. The main reason the staff need to be informed about drugs is to help them make appropriate decisions when providing drugs education, when talking to employees about drugs issues, and when dealing with drug related incidents.
All staff should have a basic level of knowledge about drugs and drug related issues as they affect the workplace. This is to ensure that staff can fulfil their duties appropriately and deal with drug related uses as it affects their role.
Each workplace must ensure understanding of the drug policy and drug awareness are in staff induction and development programmes.
A basic level of knowledge should include:
name of drugs;
effects of drugs;
legal status of drugs;
reasons people take drugs;
consequences of drug use;
understanding of the policy.
3.8 Staff Responsibilities
Drug prevention should be seen as a whole workplace issue and that each staff member both non-management and workers has a part to play. Managers should be aware that their personal conduct can have a significant impact on the readiness of all workers to adopt responsible attitudes and behaviours in relation to drugs.
All members of staff in all departments, offices, work settings, should be aware of and implement this drug policy.
3.9 Named Person
Initially, when implementing any health-related strategy, it is advisable that the workplace forms a working party consisting of someone from senior management or personnel, someone from health and safety, someone from occupational health and a workers representative. The membership of this structure will of course depend on circumstances within the individual organisation, however it is important that all parties are seen to have a stake so that the strategy will not be seen by the workers as some sort of ‘management tool’.
Further to this, it would be appropriate for workplaces to identify a particular member of staff to co-ordinate all aspects of the strategy. It is for individual workplaces to decide whether they wish to adopt such an approach. A properly trained co-ordinator or specified senior member of staff can play a valuable role in the planning and implementation of any strategies in the workplace and can also act as a first point of expert contact and advice for, in this case, drug related incidents.
This person should be responsible for:
being well informed about drugs and drug services in the community;
developing a site-based library of resources on drugs information;
linking with key people in other services and agencies who can support the workplace on drug related matters;
liaising with other members of staff within the setting to ensure those members of staff are well informed when providing drugs education or when managing drugs related issues.
All members of staff should be aware of this named person and should consider consulting with this person as a first point of contact when seeking advice, support or guidance on drug related matters.
3.10 Recruitment Procedures
Job advertisements, job descriptions and interviews should include reference to the new policy.
3.11 Staff Induction And Development
To ensure this policy is effectively implemented, all staff in their induction programmes must be made aware of its contents and implications in practice. Every workplace should consider its staff development needs on drug related matters and endeavour to fulfil them through appropriate training.
Staff should aim to work with people to achieve mutual trust. However it would be inappropriate to promise any individual person total confidentiality on any matter.
If a member of staff is dealing with a person on a one-to-one basis, the member of staff should not give advice but should endeavour to give appropriate information. If the member of staff feels unable to provide this information the person should be guided towards other sources of information.
Drug related issues should be communicated on a need-to-know basis. Confidentiality may be provided to adults but in all cases the boundaries of confidentiality need to be clarified prior to any self-disclosure.
It is not illegal for a member of staff to possess information of illegal activity but it is illegal to withhold any information if questioned by the police. Staff in the workplace will need to clarify their moral standpoint in relation to these matters.
3.13 Drug Use On Premises
If workplace managers knowingly allow illegal drugs to be possessed, used or supplied on their premises, they are committing an offence.
Good relationships with the police are essential to ensure relevant information is exchanged to prevent illegal activities on premises, while at the same time ensuring that any actions taken are in the best interest of the workers and the establishment.
Staff when working with the police in the management of an illegal drug related incident, should aim to ensure that the incident is effectively dealt with. Every attempt should be made to maintain the reputation of the establishment.
3.14 Managing Drug Related Incidents
Dealing With Incidents
All staff should be aware of the named person at their workplace and be clear about the policy of the site, which should clarify lines of communication, actions and available support.
It is against the law to possess, use and/or supply illegal drugs and therefore staff should not knowingly allow illegal drugs on the premises. Staff need to be clear about what actions should be taken if they receive information regarding drug misuse. This information may reach them in the following ways:-
suspicion or rumour;
a reported incident;
Each workplace should have planned strategies in place to ensure drug-related incidents are managed effectively. Staff must not knowingly allow people to use illegal drugs, alcohol, solvents and gas, or make inappropriate use of medicinal substances and vegetable materials whilst on site.
The use of tobacco should be decided at each setting and incorporated in the site policy.
Occasional licenses (e.g., Christmas parties) for the sale of alcohol should be discussed with line managers and clarity about accountability needs to be obtained. This applies to all settings including residential training experiences, mini-buses, etc. However, it is recognised that some people may be under the influence of drugs whilst on site and under the responsibility of staff.
The main priority for all staff must be to help employees develop to their full potential and be healthy individuals. Any work which is undertaken away from a site must fall within the law with regard to drug use.
If outreach work or specialist on site work involves working with employees who are using drugs, the member of staff must use strategies to help those people cope with any of the personal and social issues which influence their drug use, and reduce any harm to themselves and society, the main aim being, to help them reach their full potential without the use of drugs.
Staff must never condone the misuse of alcohol and other substances.
The workplace manager takes ultimate responsibility for drug use on site. In managing any drug-related issue workplaces should first consider whether it is addressed within other existing polices.
Workplaces should clarify how the possession, use or selling of drugs will be dealt with in line with the four headings below, and to what extent these are catered for within the practices and procedures used by the workplace for managing other issues.
All staff should make informed decisions relevant to the circumstances of each individual drug related incident. Each workplace must clarify a range of appropriate strategies that can be utilised by staff to effectively manage any incidents.
Strategies should be developed under the following headings:
Care for health and well-being
If any member of staff is at risk to themselves or to others, their well-being and that of others must be the first consideration. This should embrace such issues as:
emergency aid procedures;
Forms of intervention may include the following:
specific educational input;
These situations may relate to the possession, use and/or supply of drugs. Therefore, the manager of each site must ensure that staff clearly understand the procedures that apply to their workplace.
All staff must be clear who needs to be informed about any of these occurrences and trust that the reporting of these incidents to the appropriate senior member of staff will be dealt with in a sensitive way in the best interests of the worker, and the workplace.
When this trust is established, all staff should feel that they can talk to the appropriate senior member of staff about any concerns regarding drug misuse in a confidential and supportive way.
Staff should feel that they can talk with other staff members about drugs and drug use, within an educational context, without reporting any of this discussion to others. This will engender an atmosphere of trust. This level of confidentiality should be clearly stated in the site’s written policy.
Staff should take every opportunity to provide all workers with relevant information and to help them clarify their values and attitudes with regard to drugs. Managing drug related incidents can provide such opportunities.
A senior member of staff and the named person should be involved in the decision-making process. Workplaces will need to identify the key people in this process.
The main aim should be to help people develop self-discipline through positive rewards and appropriate and relevant sanctions. People should feel in control of their lives.
Expectations about behaviour should be clearly understood by all staff and best practice is achieved when codes of behaviour are agreed by all those it affects.
All staff can then appreciate the justice in using sanctions to maintain expected codes of behaviour. A range of sanctions should be identified within each setting and these should produce a menu from which each member of staff can select, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
When managing drug-related incidents staff should communicate on a need-to-know basis.
In some circumstances, to maintain the trust of people and to enable the main purpose to be achieved, staff may need to maintain confidentiality, the boundaries of confidentiality being clarified before any disclosures.
However, in all drug related incidents staff should inform their line manager or other identified senior manager that there has been an issue.
If a member of staff feels that a person may benefit from referral to another agency, the person should be informed about relevant agencies and encouraged to make their own contact. Staff, in some circumstances, may feel it necessary to support people through this process.
If a drug-related incident occurs within the workplace setting which cause a member of staff concern, discussion must take place between that member of staff and their line manager or other senior manager to clarify the strategies to be followed, to ensure the best interests of the person are met. These strategies should have been previously thought through and described in the site policy.
The context for each incident will define the strategies employed.
In making decisions about these issues, consideration should be given to the rights and the needs of the people. At all times the site policy must be followed.
The procedures for managing any drug related issue, including the provision of drugs education, must be clearly understood by all members of staff and must be adhered to, thus ensuring the policy is effectively implemented.
Each site based policy must identify how drug-related work will link with the community including:
Working in partnership with other workplaces;
Provide drug education for staff, relations, family, other workplaces, carers and the community;
Liaising with community based agencies who can support the drug related work within the workplace.
3.15 Emergency Aid/First Aid
Staff should be comfortable with providing emergency aid and should be aware of the appropriate actions if a person is ill through drug use.
First aid should only be provided by trained First Aiders. If there is any doubt about the health and well-being of any person, specialist medical help must be sought. If drugs have been misused, all relevant information and evidence must be given to the medical professionals dealing with the incident.
3.16 Disciplinary Procedure
If all else fails, including counselling and negotiation, then staff who refuse to observe the policy on substance abuse will be subject to normal disciplinary procedure.
It is important to ensure that the current disciplinary procedure is adequate to enforce the policy.
Visit Section Four