Daily Archives: 09/12/2014

Health at work guide to alcohol at work

The British Heart Foundation have released a free, downloadable booklet as part of their health at work guides to promote alcohol awareness in work places, which you can access here, called Mission Very Possible.  This is a great booklet that you can also order and these are my favourite bits:

Why Alcohol Awareness Matters:

Both men and women should aim for at least two alcohol free days each week. How much is too much? Increased risk to health begins to occur when drinking above recommended guidelines.  Social or moderate drinking can become problem drinking when:
• The impact of drinking leads to time off work due to hangovers or feeling unwell in the morning.
• Drinking leads to poor sleep and this affects performance at work.
• Drinking affects the ability to carry out expected duties at home.
• Drinking is used to manage unwanted feelings or thoughts.

I would have been nodding my head to all of those statements when I was drinking and would have welcomed the positive workplace alcohol policy detailed within the booklet:

At Transport for London the safety of our customers and staff is paramount, which means the safety of the duties our staff perform is vital. In order to prevent accidents and combat alcohol problems amongst our staff we offer a comprehensive alcohol service which encourages affected staff to come forward and seek help immediately and in return they are protected from disciplinary action.  We raise awareness about this at staff inductions and by communicating about it throughout the year.  Once a staff member seeks help, we offer an initial assessment as well as liver function tests to assess the damage to their health. Employees will then sign-up to a three week assessment and support process during which time they don’t work but still get paid. Over this time they attend three days each week and are assessed in groups by qualified counsellors specialised in addiction. Everything is done as a group to encourage peer support.  At the end of the three week period we make a treatment plan going forward.  This can mean going back to work or can involve formal treatment. Whenever they return to work they go back on a ‘monitoring certificate’ which means they’re regularly alcohol tested for six months. If they receive formal treatment they also attend a weekly support group for six months when they return to work.

I commend the British Heart Foundation for this booklet and their raising this issue.  This is something many employers and companies should be looking at and considering whether public or private sector.  How many hours are lost at work through absences due to drinking or poor productivity due to hangovers?  Transport for London have tackled the issue but not in a punitive but supportive way and this is a great example of how it can be done.  Does your workplace have this kind of policy and supportive protocol?