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Fitness For Work Leigh Cleary Senior Workforce Development Project Officer DAO. 80% of Australians consumed alcohol during the past 12 months 39% drank at short-term risk levels 20% drank at long-term risk levels

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Fitness For Work Leigh Cleary Senior Workforce Development Project Officer DAO

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national aod perspective
80% of Australians consumed alcohol during the past 12 months

39% drank at short-term risk levels

20% drank at long-term risk levels

35.4% had used cannabis at some time in their life and 10.3% had used in the previous 12 months

7.4% have used prescription drugs for non medical purposes at some time in their life, while 4.2% have used during the past 12 months

2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report

July 2011

National AOD Perspective
drugs alcohol and work
Drug and alcohol problems effect most people within the community

The workplace has been seen as a potential site for strategies to reduce these harms, as the majority of people that have AOD problems are employed

The workplace itself can influence AOD use (+ve or -ve)

The majority of businesses in Australia, and elsewhere, do not have formal policies and constructive responses to AOD use within the workplace (Allsop et al.)

Drugs, Alcohol, and Work…
the economic and social impacts of alcohol
The cost to the Australian community from alcohol-related harm is estimated to be at least $15.3 billion per year. Much of this cost is borne outside the health system and includes road accidents (over $2 billion), crime ($1.6 billion) and lost productivity in the home ($1.5 billion) (Collins & Lapsley 2008)

It is estimated that the harm to others caused by Australian drinkers costs the community $20 billion a year, on top of the estimated $15.3 billion described above (Laslett et al. 2010)

The Economic and Social Impacts of Alcohol
the economic and social impacts of alcohol1
• Lost productivity in the workplace attributable to alcohol

costs $3.5 billion annually

• Alcohol-related absenteeism costs between $437 million

and $1.2 billion annually

• Employee illnesses attributed to alcohol and other drug use costs $2 billion annually

• Additional hours worked as a consequence of having a heavy drinking colleague costs $453 million annually

VicHealth and NDRI: Reducing alcohol-related harm in the workplace An evidence review: summary report

The Economic and Social Impacts of Alcohol
direct impact of aod use in the workplace


Lower productivity

Staff turnover

Costs to the individual employee

Costs to other employees

Direct impact of AOD use in the workplace
responsibility of employers
While many employers would prefer not to interfere in an issue which is often seen as being ‘the private lives of employees’, there are statutory obligations on employers that require some level of active management of drug and alcohol issues

Recognition that alcohol and other drug use is as much a workplace issue as it is a community issue is the first step in creating meaningful and effective change through informed policy development and cultural shifts

Responsibility of employers
key reasons for employers to respond
Ethical (it’s the right thing to do)

Required to provide a safe workplace (Legal)

Effective responses can save money (economic)

Key reasons for employers to respond
so what can you do as an employer
There is no magic bullet

Drug and alcohol use can be a very complex issue to deal with and may require a number of different initiatives in order to deal with it effectively and in a cost efficient manner

There are a few questions that you (as an employer) must ask yourself…

What is drug use and how does it affect my workplace?

What are the factors that influence someone to use drugs or alcohol at work?

What kind of cost effective and efficient responses can we implement?

So what can you do as an employer??
the drug and alcohol office provides
An in-depth consultation meeting with agency staff, usually:

OSH Manager/Director

Union Rep

Agency Manager/Director

Key Stakeholders

The Drug and Alcohol Office Provides
purpose of this consultation
To get a picture of what is happening for that particular workplace

Identify key issues

Identify deficits (policy/procedure/practices)

Identify factors that may contribute to the problem

Inform stakeholders of the Macro issues that the broader community in general face with relation to AOD use

Examine options

Purpose of this consultation
common workplace factors that may impact on aod use
Industry in which you work

Availability of alcohol or other drugs

Workplace culture

Amount of perceived stress in one’s job

Isolated environment (away from family or friends)

Disposable income


Gender and Age

Management style (lack of supervision)

Common workplace factors that may impact on AOD use
individual counselling model
Presenting issue (what's happening?)

Predisposing issue (what has made this person susceptible?)

Precipitating issue (what has brought about this issue?)

Perpetuating issue (why is this issue not going away?)

Protective factors (what factors can help curb this issue?)

Individual counselling model
workplace aod model
Presenting issue (what is happening in the workplace?)

Predisposing issue (Why is this organisation susceptible to AOD issues?) –location?gender?work type?

Precipitating issue (Why has your agency decided to act?)

Perpetuating Factors (What factors maintain AOD use?)

Protective Factors (How can the organisation protect their staff?)

Workplace AOD Model

Location? Work Type?

Gender? Age?

Regular issues? Reporting?

Absenteeism? Cost?


Policies and Procedures?

EAP’s? Health Promotion?

Education? Role Modelling?

Income? Availability?

Low Supervision? Boredom?

Workplace culture?

aod policy a ten step guideline allsop ask and duffy 2001 step 1 consultation
Consultation ensures that relevant stakeholders have been approached and have had their say regarding the policy (workers, HR, unions etc.)

Determine mutually acceptable goals

Ensure the policy is credible

AOD Policy: A Ten Step Guideline (Allsop, Ask, and Duffy, 2001)Step 1: Consultation
step 2 universal application to all employees
A policy that is selective and applies only to ‘rank and file’ employees is likely to engender resentment and compromise policy uptake

This must be clearly stated in the policy that is applies to management as well as employees, and that it applies to all worksites and external contractors

Step 2: Universal application to all employees
step 3 organisation specific
Different organisation work differently, have different environments, and have different cultures present. It is unlikely that a generic AOD policy will work in any given environment. It needs to organisation-specific in order to address issues in individual workplaces (possible different branches of the same organisation may need to slightly adjust policies to suit)

Unions may also have a vested interest in policy and should be part of the consultation process

Step 3: Organisation Specific
step 4 policies must be comprehensive
Not merely state rules about consumption within the workplace. The policy must spell out whether or not the workplace is a “dry” site, or whether it allows some alcohol use and the circumstances under which it may occurStep 4: Policies must be comprehensive
step 5 instructions and procedures for responding to drug related incidents
Must contain clear instructions and procedures

Name the person or position that will approach the potentially drug-impaired workers

What counselling/treatment procedures are in place

Procedure of the interview following the initial approach

Details of disciplinary action that may be taken against the employee

Step 5: Instructions and procedures for responding to drug related incidents
step 6 drug testing as an option
Considered at policy development phase

The accuracy of test results is contingent on a range of factors, including the collection, handling, and analysis of samples

Collection procedures may be intrusive

In an effort to determine the suitability of drug testing such analysis must consider a number of issues, including: specific rates of use within the organisation or industry, the accuracy of tests and their inability to measure impairment as such; and the various direct and indirect costs of a testing program

Step 6: Drug testing as an option
more on testing
Testing positive for marajuana can occur some time after marajuana has been consumed. Has led to unfair dismissal, ruled in favour of the employee.

Out of hours conduct: Morality

Very few cost-benefit analyses done to evaluate effectiveness.

Because it takes several hours for drug metabolites to appear in urine, drug tests may miss drug users who are under the influence of drugs at the time the test is given. Drug impairment is the employers primary concern

Privacy concerns – intrusive nature of the test, the creation of a record, use (and possible abuse) of that data.

More on testing
alternative testing methods
Psychomotor testing

Limited evidence

Focus on impairment as opposed to substance present

Looks at more than one form of impairment, not just AOD use

Relatively inexpensive (over a long period of time)

Alternative Testing Methods
step 7 change should be gradual and informed
Effective policy delivery is dependent upon supportive rather than hostile environments

Such environments are achieved by gradual and informed introduction of change

Policy that is introduced too quick, or does not fit within the culture of the agency may prove to be an impediment to effective implementation

Step 7: Change should be gradual and informed
step 8 publicise the policy in an appropriate and equitable way
Do not just distribute written policies, as they will not be read by all employees

Ongoing regular communication with employees is essential for successful implementation

Human resource literature supports the inclusion of this ingredient and contends that communication strategies are more effective if conducted through a variety of channels using strategies that are appropriate to the target audience

Step 8: Publicise the policy in an appropriate and equitable way
Define the roles and responsibilities of the employees in regards to drug or alcohol use

Supervisors may need extra support to understand their roles and responsibilities as employers

Roles and responsibilities must be disseminated to all staff, and especially during new employee inductions (written proof) and at regular staff meetings as a ‘standing item’

Step 9: Engender employee compliance through the definition of roles and responsibilities, and education and training
Education and training is the second strategy for ensuring compliance

Should include information about personal drug use, as well as instruction for employees and safety committees on dealing with drug-impaired employees

Provide staff training sessions regularly

Step 9: Engender employee compliance through the definition of roles and responsibilities, and education and training
step 10 evaluate the implementation process
Evaluation serves 3 main purposes: it assesses how well a policy meets it objectives; it ensures accountability at the manager and organisational level; and it provides important information for predicting future policy success or failure

Potential evaluation consideration are;

The extent to which the policy implementation applies to all employees

The achievement of anticipated outcomes, such as the identification of drug impaired employees, and the safe and responsible use of drugs

Evaluate the treatment and intervention model set out in the policy

Step 10: Evaluate the implementation process
what happens when a fitness for work procedure is acted upon1
Poor work performance identified

Employee deemed “not fit for work” will be sent home and informally interviewed the following day

Informal interview about reasons for poor work performance and support offered to overcome any fitness for work issues

If work performance continues to be poor proceed to interview #2 (formal). If work performance has improved, no further action required

Interview #3 and the Final interview follow this process in the same fashion (documented), with dismissal being a last resort for the employer.

What happens when a fitness for work procedure is acted upon?
the role of workplace
Moral police?

Provide Diagnosis?

Detect impairment from drug use?

Monitor performance?

Act ethically?

Look after staff?

The role of workplace
There is no “silver bullet’’

Drug and Alcohol testing has limits, and should always be carried out as part of comprehensive alcohol and other drugs policy at a workplace.

We need effective and comprehensive policies and procedures

We need to understand the importance of Consultation

We need to be led by the evidence