D&A Fact Sheet 04 – Policy Principles – What to include in a D&A Policy

Provision of information

The Workplace alcohol and other drugs policy should be a cooperative effort between the employer, employees and their unions.

The policy should recognise the cultural and social problems associated with drugs and alcohol that are endemic in today’s society and provides a clear specific procedure to manage them in the workplace.

It is important to develop a workplace culture through education where workers are prepared to encourage each other to be safe and not impaired at work. Employees should be aware of the need to refer incidents likely to pose a safety hazard to their supervisor, and if the problem is ongoing to the chairperson of the OHS committee or OHS Representative. The policy should be well communicated within the workplace and provide for a suitable information and education program for all staff.

Induction Programs

Information on the Alcohol and Other Drugs and Fatigue Policy should be provided in induction and on-going training and posted on noticeboards for all employees to refer to.

Developing an Effective Policy

Managing alcohol and drugs problems at work

Developing a policy to manage alcohol and drugs problems in your workplace is a proactive way to deal with potential alcohol and drug problems.

The main aim of an alcohol and drug policy is to ensure a healthy and safe workplace. You can make this part of your workplace’s occupational health and safety strategy.

An effective program can provide improved benefits to businesses and organisations and their employees. These could include:

  • A safer workplace
  • Improved productivity through reductions in absenteeism
  • Reduction in worker’s compensation premiums
  • Improved employee morale.


A well-designed and implemented Alcohol and Other Drug management program should provide measurable performance and cost benefits to the organisation. Direct benefits can be expected as a result of:

  • Improved productivity following reductions in absenteeism and staff turnover;
  • Improved workplace safety;
  • Reduction in accidents and workers’ compensation premiums;
  • Reduced grievance and harassment claims; and
  • Improved employee commitment and morale, leading to improved individual performance

Your program should not be about:

  • Stopping people drinking
  • Forcing people to “dob” in a mate
  • Embarrassing people
  • Forcing people into treatment
  • Getting people sacked.

No matter what type of workplace you have, your policy should:

  • Focus on health and safety
  • Provide strategies to encourage changes in attitude so that it becomes accepted that work and alcohol and drugs don’t mix. For example, responsible serving of alcohol at work function
  • Help supervisors and managers deal appropriately with employees who are intoxicated
  • Help people who are misusing alcohol and drugs from developing further problems
  • Help people who have problems to seek effective solutions and treatment
  • Provide information enabling people with alcohol and drug problems to have choices about solutions and treatment.

An effective management approach No two workplaces are the same, so businesses and organisations may need an individual approach to managing alcohol and drugs that reflects the type of operation, size and other characteristics of that workplace.

To be effective, your management program should:

  • Developed in consultation with employees, supervisors, union safety_reps and workplace safety representatives
  • Provide clear guidelines for managers and frontline employees for managing the misuse of alcohol and drugs at work. Other employees need to be clearly informed of their responsibilities and your approach to alcohol and drugs at work
  • Provide appropriate support and assistance to employees with an alcohol or drug problem. This may include counselling, treatment or rehabilitation programs. Access to sick leave may be required
  • Be applicable to all parties in the workplace
  • Ensure strict confidentiality of personal information.

Getting Started

  • Roles and responsibilities – Supervisors, managers, OHS and Union Reps
  • Education including self awareness
  • Information and training
  • Disciplinary Procedures (refer to information sheet 5)
  • Referral to support services, persons responsible for approaching an employee suspected of being under the influence
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Early intervention – include a section on approaching the employee who may be impaired.

During the development of the policy, the organisation should identify any cultural and workplace stress factors, which could contribute to excessive substance, use and aim to reduce those factors. General health and safety, management style, work practices, shift work, deadlines, equipment design and discrimination should be all examined.

In particular, measures for the safe handling, storage and use of hazardous substances should be considered. Chemicals such as solvents and pesticides can affect performance in a way.

Provision of Education and Training

Education and training for all employees should cover:

  • The importance of being sober and drug free at work;
  • What constitutes unacceptable alcohol or other drug use;
  • The workplace’s policy on dealing with the misuse of alcohol and other drugs, both long term and isolated incidents;
  • The consequences for employees who fail to comply with the workplace’s alcohol and other drugs policy;
  • The effects of the misuse of alcohol and other drugs on health, safety and performance in the workplace;
  • Ways of dealing with the misuse of alcohol and other drugs;
  • The counselling, treatment and rehabilitation services available in the workplace and externally;
  • The appropriate person/s to approach for assistance with a problem related to the misuse of alcohol and other drugs; and
  • The legal position (rights and penalties) of employees and management in relation to alcohol and other drug testing, if relevant privacy and confidentiality.

Specialist Training

Training for managers, supervisors, OHS committee members and other designated people should include:

  • Their role and responsibility for implementing this policy;
  • How to identify and approach employees who are affected by alcohol or other drugs in the workplace;
  • Dealing with the long-term user and those intoxicated in one-off situations;
  • How to sensitively refer an employee to specialist counselling and treatment and to avoid taking on the counselling role themselves;
  • Observation of people suspected of being under the influence of a substance;
  • Role and responsibility in relation to privacy.

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D&A Fact Sheet 04 – Policy Principles – What to include in a D&A Policy

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