Considerate Constructors Scheme
BEST PRACTICE HUB

drugs and alcohol

Spotlight on… drugs and alcohol aims to raise awareness of the health and safety risks associated with the topic and how it impacts the construction industry, pursuing the ultimate goal of educating the sectors’ workforce...

read more

The campaign

‘Spotlight on… drugs and alcohol’ aims to raise awareness of the health and safety risks associated with this topic and educate the sectors’ workforce about how drugs and alcohol impact upon the construction industry.

Maintaining a safe working environment is of utmost importance for any employer; this not only applies to the workforce, but also the surrounding public and anybody else who may be affected. The need for attention and consideration could not be more of a priority than within the already safety-conscious construction industry.

It goes without saying that the influence of drugs and alcohol pose huge safety risks for the industry; the slightest lapse in attention or focus could cause serious consequences, particularly in a working environment where heavy machinery and vehicles are used. For many people, consuming alcohol outside working hours is a typical part of a normal lifestyle and usually does not create any serious problems. Enjoying a few drinks within the legal limit in leisure time should not be condemned, but the after effects must be kept in mind when regarding an individual’s physical and mental capabilities.

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said:

“Spotlight on… drugs and alcohol is a must read for everyone. As the Scheme’s latest industry survey revealed 59% of respondents agree that drugs and alcohol are issues of concern. It is clear action must be taken across the industry to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing across construction sites and companies throughout the UK.”

It is important to understand that drugs and alcohol can affect the psychological and physical state of wellbeing, significantly diminishing the ability to perform at a responsible level. The effects of drugs and alcohol can vary depending on the particular substance taken. However, the most common influences that can affect an individual in a working environment are as follows:

  • Impaired awareness including vision and hearing
  • Reduced concentration and ability to focus
  • Diminished judgement and decision making
  • Compromised balance and coordination

Each of these can directly compromise both the body’s mental and physical ability, greatly intensifying the chance of a hazard occurring. It is common knowledge when working in a construction environment that the individual’s actions do not just affect themselves, but can also impact those around them.

It is essential to keep in mind that it is not just recreational drugs that can pose a serious risk. Prescribed drugs may also influence an individual in various ways, which can have serious consequences in the workplace. Fundamentally, any form of drug that you may not routinely take holds the possibility of unexpected side effects.

The issue of drugs and alcohol does not just pose a health and safety hazard; the possession, production and supply of illegal drugs are criminal offences and have no place in the working environment. Whilst employers and fellow colleagues should be aware of the signs of being under the influence, they should also be vigilant of any illegal activity taking place on premises.

Alongside the risks to health and safety and potential criminal activity, the impact of drugs and alcohol should be clearly identified and addressed. The impact of drugs and alcohol can be categorised down to four core issues:

  1. Injuries and fatalities
  2. Absenteeism and dismissal
  3. Inefficiency
  4. Criminal activity

Facts and figures

It can be difficult to determine exactly what extent the industry is affected by drugs and alcohol. The following facts have been identified:

  • 20-30% of workplace accidents can be associated with alcohol in safety-critical industries such as construction (NHS, 2006)
  • 27% of employers say drug misuse is a problem at work while 60% have experienced problems due to staff drinking alcohol (Alcohol Concern, 2010)
  • 33% of employees admit to being at work with a hangover from the night before, which they accept impacts directly on their own productivity and safety (Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2015)
  • 3-5% of all absences each year are due to alcohol (Trade Union Congress, 2010)
  • 17 million working days a year are lost in England due to alcohol-related sickness, with more than a third of adults admitting to having used illegal drugs (Health and Safety at work, 2007)
  • £12.2 billion is spent each year on alcohol-sickness absence costs in the UK (Faculty of Public Health, 2006)
  • 3 million deaths a year are a result of harmful drugs and alcohol use (World Health Organisation, 2015) 

In order to gain a more up to date and direct representation of how the industry feels about the issue, the Scheme gathered information through an industry survey. Over 1,200 participants responded, proving the subject was clearly an important issue. The following results were identified:

  • 59% agreed there is an issue in the industry related to drugs and alcohol
  • 39% admitted the issue of drugs or alcohol could be better tackled in their workplace
  • 65% admitted they have never been tested for drugs and alcohol
  • 35% have noticed their colleagues under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • 25% agreed drugs or alcohol affected them at work through tiredness
  • 23% agreed it affected them through decreased attention during work
  • 19% agreed the affects made them less productive at work 

Responses also showed a positive approach was being taken to tackle the issue, with sites providing information on drugs and alcohol through toolbox talks, site inductions and resources such as posters. Alcohol policies are often clearly displayed and many companies take a zero tolerance approach to drugs and alcohol.

While it is clear that the industry is aware of this issue, there is evidence to suggest that more can be done, and in some cases, needs to be done. There is now a greater requirement for more testing to be conducted both on site and in office locations. Although testing raises a highly sensitive subject of privacy and legalities, some believe it is the only way to properly regulate the issue, with a general consensus that random testing is beneficial.

Any initiatives such as random testing should focus equally on all personnel within a company, including site and office based employees, not simply operatives. Also, like many other subjects in the industry that require resources and manpower to tackle, it is smaller companies which generally have a more difficult time implementing such a comprehensive and thorough approach.

It is crucial that testing is carried out legally and correctly for any company which decides to include drugs and alcohol testing within their policy. Testing should only be carried out by a professional testing agency or a fully certified and accredited employee. A professional agency will send specialised staff to visit the premises and carry out testing, as well as produce results. An accredited employee is a member of staff who is qualified under a professional agency to perform testing for their own workforce.

It is also important to recognise testing may not be included in every company’s drugs and alcohol policy and therefore the workforce cannot be subject to testing if it is not stated in this document.

 

 

Law and legislation

Click for more

Law and legislation

The subject of drugs and alcohol does not just pose a risk to health and safety, it also raises legal concerns. These examples highlight exactly how issues within this topic can cross over into a legal matter...

Click for more

External resources

Click for more

External resources

There are many awareness campaigns and resources dedicated to the subject of drugs and alcohol. These examples include a collection of useful and important information gathered from various organisations and databases...

Click for more

Examples of best practice

Click for more

Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Here are a number of best practice examples that have been either witnessed by the Scheme's Monitors on their site visits or submitted by members of the industry themselves...

Click for more

Case studies

Click for more

Case studies

The industry has acknowledged and reacted to the issue of drugs and alcohol for some time now. However, as the environment changes the industry is also changing its approach to tackling the issue. Click here for examples, case studies and sources of information that are better safeguarding the workforce...

Click for more

What can you do?

There is no doubt the industry has made considerable progress with tackling the issue of drugs and alcohol over the years. The topic can also touch on sensitive areas regarding implementing regulations governing on how an individual should act outside of work. However, the primary concern is and always will be to safeguard the workforce’s health and safety in one of the most accident and risk intensive industries.

Below you will find advice on what you can do to better organise and prepare a strategy for tackling the issue of drugs and alcohol:

1. A drugs and alcohol policy should be constructed and implemented at a company-wide level

In order to establish a firm, direct and informed approach to the issue, a policy should be in place. This ensures all employees understand the procedures and regulations associated with the issue, as well as providing a clear and accessible direction for when action is required. Drugs and alcohol is a serious concern to health and safety and should therefore fall alongside other policies in this area.

2. Resources and awareness materials should be easily accessible

Promoting the topic through visible reminders is effective in maintaining a sense of awareness that leads to positive action and thinking. Initiatives should include staff meetings, resources such as posters, handouts, information summaries and directions to other sources of information, such as this campaign. Education is the most effective tool to tackle the issue.

3. Support systems should be available and approachable

An employee that feels they are cared for and has options is more likely to take action. Establish an environment where support is easily accessible and the individual is ensured confidentiality. An open door policy and offering support internally is a priority, as well as having a direct channel to refer externally if necessary. It should be encouraged that coming forward and managing the issue is the right thing to do for the workforce.

4. Encourage an open environment

All employees should feel they can talk to someone about any concerns or personal issues at their workplace. It is important to encourage an environment where there is a focus to achieve solutions first, rather than taking disciplinary actions without any attempts of support.

5. Testing

Workforce testing is not a legal requirement for every company to comply with. However, it is advised to integrate some level of testing within the overall drugs and alcohol policy. This ensures there is a formal and controlled procedure that can provide factual results and therefore support the decision to take the necessary action(s) with greater accuracy. The presence of potential testing also maintains a firm reminder to the workforce of the consequences of not taking the issue of drugs and alcohol seriously.

As well as the information above, it is also advised to use the resources provided in the ‘External resources’ section, which offers guidance and resources from other organisations and companies that cover the full spectrum of the topic.

The Scheme will continue to update this page as new examples and case studies of how the industry is tackling this issue are identified. If you would like to share how your company is addressing occupational cancers, please contact the Scheme by emailing enquiries@ccsbestpractice.org.uk 
Navigational menu
Close menu

Campaign sections

More on... Spotlight on… drugs and alcohol

Close examples of best practice

Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Below are a number of best practice examples that have been either witnessed by the Scheme’s Monitors on their site visits or submitted by members of the industry themselves:

Equipping gatemen with breathalysers

Published 7 May 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Sensitivity to neighbours Traffic management
CategoriesAlcohol testing Sensitivity to neighbours Traffic management

Contractors must be vigilant against the presence of drugs and alcohol on site, as it is in the interests of everyone on site to remain safe. This can be a particular problem with drivers, as a driver under the influence poses a grave risk to the local community. See the examples below for how one site addressed this: As the gateman…

Spotlight on… campaign posters

Published 17 March 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Campaigns Drugs and alcohol policy Illegal workers Occupational health risks Posters Scheme posters/banners Workforce information
CategoriesAlcohol testing Campaigns Drugs and alcohol policy Illegal workers Occupational health risks Posters Scheme posters/banners Workforce information

Spotlight on… posters have been designed for general display in and around site welfare facilities. The Scheme is currently developing a collection of A3 posters from the series of ‘Spotlight on… ‘ awareness campaigns. This resource has proven valuable for display on site and raising awareness amongst the workforce and visitors.  

Raising Drugs & Alcohol awareness

Published 25 October 2016 | No comments
Written by London City Island
Categories Alcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing
CategoriesAlcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing

Our company’s drugs and alcohol policy includes a clear annual and random testing regime of no less than 20% of the workforce. Proper guidance and support systems will be offered if the individual declares their drug or alcohol problem prior to being tested, encouraging an attitude of stepping forward to gain help. Likewise, anyone refusing testing shall result in disciplinary…

Drug and Alcohol Awareness

Published 30 August 2016 | No comments
Written by Andrew Sharp
Categories Alcohol testing Controls Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Posters
CategoriesAlcohol testing Controls Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Posters

We are committed to maintaining a productive and most importantly, safe workplace. In managing large geographical areas of the strategic road network involving busy transportation pathways and working next to high speed traffic, we must ensure that the safety of the workforce and the public is always of utmost concern, and that our workforce all round awareness is always as…

Drugs and alcohol testing during Ramadan

Published 8 August 2016 | No comments
Written by Andrew Shepherd
Categories Alcohol testing Cultural needs Drugs and alcohol policy Religious considerations
CategoriesAlcohol testing Cultural needs Drugs and alcohol policy Religious considerations

Due to the diverse workforce on site we have requested the drugs and alcohol testing company bring saliva testing kits with them instead of just urine during Ramadan. This caters for those involved with Ramadan traditions where operatives may struggle to supply sufficient sample due to the reduced intake of liquids.

Spotlight on… campaign flyers

Published 22 June 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Apprenticeships Campaigns Communication Cycle safety Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Illegal workers Inappropriate language Medications Mental health Occupational health risks Posters
CategoriesAlcohol testing Apprenticeships Campaigns Communication Cycle safety Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Illegal workers Inappropriate language Medications Mental health Occupational health risks Posters

The Spotlight on… flyers have been designed for general display in and around site welfare facilities. The Scheme provides a collection of A5 flyers from both past and current ‘Spotlight on… ‘ awareness campaigns. Each unique flyer contains information on the industry issue and advice on how to tackle it. This resource has proven valuable for display on site and raising awareness…

Driver drug and alcohol testing

Published 10 May 2016 | No comments
Written by Simon Taylor
Categories Alcohol testing Controls Driver information Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Protected and controlled access Risk information
CategoriesAlcohol testing Controls Driver information Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Protected and controlled access Risk information

Construction by its nature has many potential risks. One of the risks involves the workforce operating whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Either of these will impair their performance and can lead to them taking safety risks or putting others at risk. Our usual drug and alcohol policy applies to all persons engaged in the works, and some have…

Drug testing and counselling initiative

Published 15 April 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Counselling services Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Workforce consultation
CategoriesCounselling services Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Workforce consultation

The risk and impact of drugs to an individual can be a serious concern to their own health, as well as others. It is important to take the topic seriously and provide a thorough approach including both regulation and support, when considering the wellbeing and safety of the workforce. Below is an example of how one site introduced drug testing…

Tackling addiction

Published 1 April 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Consultation Medical conditions Mental health Stress
CategoriesConsultation Medical conditions Mental health Stress

Caring for the wellbeing and safety of your employees is crucial in maintaining a happy, healthy workforce and industry image. The focus on health and safety is continuous and can always be enhanced on a construction site. However there are aspects of maintaining a healthy wellbeing that can’t always be noticeably seen and can easily go unnoticed, such as an addiction….

Bring your child to work day

Published 31 March 2016 | No comments
Written by Andrew Sharp
Categories Employed Induction and training Legacy Vehicle enhancements Workforce
CategoriesEmployed Induction and training Legacy Vehicle enhancements Workforce

Our Area 12 STEM Ambassador Group arranged a ‘Bring your child to work day’ during the summer holidays to encourage more young people to consider Engineering as a career and provide greater awareness of our construction and engineering activities around the network. This allowed us to reach local communities, to share what we do and why we do what we…

Alcohol Awareness Week

Published 4 March 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Drugs and alcohol policy
CategoriesDrugs and alcohol policy

Alcohol awareness week is an annual campaign organised by Alcohol Concern. The campaign aims to get people thinking about alcohol and how it impacts themselves, as well families, colleagues and the community as a whole. Any organisation is encouraged to take part from local authorities, emergency and healthcare services, schools, colleges and the workplace. Alcohol concern is providing free resources including…

Dry January

Published 4 March 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Drugs and alcohol policy
CategoriesDrugs and alcohol policy

Dry January is an annual campaign organised by Alcohol Concern that runs the full length of January. The campaign encourages adopting a completely alcohol free lifestyle for a total 31 days with the aim to raise awareness of alcohol consumption and healthy living. Those who have taken part in previous years have reported a noticeable change in health including: Weight loss Better…

How much sugar is in alcoholic drinks?

Published 1 March 2016 | No comments
Written by Sarah Carey
Categories Healthy lifestyle advice Posters
CategoriesHealthy lifestyle advice Posters

At Kier, we have the aim of encouraging staff to eat and drink healthier even outside of work. To support this cause, one of our site managers devised a poster detailing how much sugar is contained within popular alcoholic drinks. This poster is now being displayed on all sites and in our main office in Cardiff. We hope the workforce will…

Drugs and alcohol policy

Published 4 February 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing
CategoriesAlcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing

A proactive approach to managing drugs and alcohol on site is important. Operatives need to be of a fit state of mind and have sound judgement to ensure their own safety and the safety of others around them. Many sites have implemented a Drugs and Alcohol policy to ensure all operatives on site are not under the influence of alcohol…

Drugs and alcohol policy template

Published 3 February 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Medications
CategoriesAlcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Medications

Many sites have implemented a Drugs and Alcohol policy to ensure all operatives on site are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and therefore are fit to work. Drugs and alcohol testing might be implemented where appropriate to further encourage this positive culture of safety consideration. For sites that do not have their own company policy in place,…

Supporting operatives through drug and alcohol misuse

Published 9 December 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Management attitudes
CategoriesAlcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing Management attitudes

Encouraging healthy living throughout the workforce is important. Providing information and help on preventing the use of alcohol and drugs, can make operatives feel supported and cared for. Alcohol and drug use should also be considered and discouraged. Especially as this can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the workforce and even present a potential safety issue. Below…

Introducing ambassadors to manage alcohol and drugs on site

Published 6 October 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Attitudes Behaviour Drugs and alcohol policy Management
CategoriesAttitudes Behaviour Drugs and alcohol policy Management

A proactive approach to managing drugs and alcohol on site is important. Operatives need to be of a fit state of mind and have sound judgement to ensure the safety of themselves and others on site. Below is an example of how a site used ambassadors to manage the issue of drugs and alcohol: Alcohol and drugs ‘Ambassadors’ were appointed…

Supporting the homeless within the local community

Published 5 August 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Disadvantaged groups Support
CategoriesDisadvantaged groups Support

It is important to support and help the local community wherever possible.   Good levels of community engagement will represent your company in a good light and leave a positive lasting impression of the construction industry as a whole. Below is an example of a site that provided an exceptional level of help to homeless ex-service personnel within the local community: The site…

Men’s Health Toolbox Talks

Published 4 August 2015 | No comments
Written by Chris Butts
Categories Stress Weather protection
CategoriesStress Weather protection

Toolbox talks are a great way of engaging with the workforce and delivering talks on relevant health and safety topics. Havercroft Construction Limited are working alongside the Men’s Health Forum to create Toolbox Talks developed for the construction industry relating to various men’s health issues including: Stress related issues Alcohol consumption Skin safety To view the toolbox talks click below.

Health and Wellbeing Procedure

Published 3 August 2015 | No comments
Written by Helle Dorrington
Categories Drugs and alcohol policy Healthy lifestyle advice Supply chain
CategoriesDrugs and alcohol policy Healthy lifestyle advice Supply chain

The purpose of the health and wellbeing procedure improvement opportunity was: To ensure health risks from work activities were identified and controlled; Set standards and engage with the supply chain to control health risks from work activities; Promote good health generally. The Berkeley Homes health and wellbeing procedure was split into three sections. The first section included assessment and control…

Using breathalysers to ensure that operatives are fit for work

Published 29 January 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Initiatives Supervision
CategoriesAlcohol testing Initiatives Supervision

The construction industry poses a number of safety risks to operatives, visitors and the general public. Due to the nature of the construction industry, the work undertaken and the machinery used should be carefully planned and monitored. Correct and updated training should be implemented and every precaution taken to ensure that your workforce is able to perform tasks within a safe environment. Below…

Addressing risk attitudes of drivers

Published 25 November 2014 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Attitudes Behaviour Drugs and alcohol policy Speed limits
CategoriesAttitudes Behaviour Drugs and alcohol policy Speed limits

Constructors should address any risks to operatives health and safety. Extensive health and safety protocols and risk assessments should be implemented throughout construction sites nationally. Most sites adhere to this necessity, however often there is little done to address the attitude of taking risks. This gap of awareness around the risk attitudes of drivers has been identified and addressed by:…

Using HSE guidelines to assess health risks

Published 19 November 2014 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Drugs testing Occupational health risks
CategoriesAlcohol testing Drugs testing Occupational health risks

Construction companies should try to adopt high standards of care for their employees. Health risks should be identified, assessed and addressed, to ensure a safe work environment. An occupational health trade or activity risk matrix should be made available for the workforce. A number of sites have used the risk matrix ‘Health surveillance by trade’ that has been published by the…

Smoking, drink and drugs

Published 3 November 2014 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Counselling services Drugs testing Smoking
CategoriesAlcohol testing Counselling services Drugs testing Smoking

Encouraging healthy living throughout the workforce is important. Providing information and help on how to quit smoking, for example, can make operatives feel supported and cared for. Alcohol and drug use should also be considered and discouraged. Especially as this can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the workforce and even present a potential safety issue. Examples of…

Drug and alcohol testing

Published 24 October 2014 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing
CategoriesAlcohol testing Drugs and alcohol policy Drugs testing

Random drugs and alcohol testing is an effective way of ensuring that safety on site is of paramount importance. Attitudes towards the effects of drugs and alcohol on workers, should be fed down from senior managers and adopted by all. Drinking or taking drugs before working on site could effect reaction times, judgements and result in dangerous incidents or accidents on site….

Close case studies

Case studies

The following case studies are a collection of useful and important information gathered from various sources including contractors and professional organisations and charities:

Contractors

A-one+ Integrated Highways Services focuses their efforts to tackle drugs and alcohol through a Road Safety Week initiative. Educating the workforce on the effects and impact of drug and drink driving to reduce the risk in and around busy transportation pathways and high speed traffic. To find out more click here.
Ardmore Construction Ltd outlines its drugs and alcohol policy including a random testing procedure and the limits deemed to be considered as a positive result. To find out more click here.
Ballymore highlights their range of awareness techniques aiming to tackle the issue of drugs and alcohol within the greater factor of health and safety. The London City Island project sets an example through its range of available resources. To find out more click here.
Bowmer & Kirkland’s drug and alcohol policy outlines the effects on the individual both short and long term. Testing procedures are also explained including a intervention pocket guide and awareness posters. For more information click here.
Interserve has established tool box talks including a host of facts and figures on drugs and alcohol. Their policy also offers a range of resources such as posters and advisory services. To find out more click here.
Jerram Falkus provides a clear and concise set of construction site rules with particular focus on projects in and around schools. A full set of health and safety concerns are enforced including attention to drugs and alcohol. To find out more click here.
John F Hunt Demolition Ltd highlights and explains the full spectrum of testing along with disciplinary offences and actions. Their policy also provides detailed descriptions of prescribed medicines including potential effects that can cause a safety hazard. To find out more click here.
John Sisk & Son Ltd acknowledge the risk that substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol can have whilst working on site and have developed and implemented a Substance Abuse policy. The Sisk Temple Quay, Phase 3 project put in place a site specific initiative to combat this issue. To find out more click here.
Mick George Ltd showcases their Safety Improvement Campaign, highlighting their testing process. Road safety is also enforced through an example with a partnership with the local police. For more information click here.
Mulalley & Co Ltd provides an overview of their drug and alcohol policy including methods such as raising awareness through inductions, tool box talks and site posters. Also highlighting their FORS accreditation to improve safety on the roads. To find out more click here.

Organisations

AgriYork 400 Ltd provide a detailed explanation of drug testing and the laws behind it that affect the employee. For more information click here.
Alcohol Concern offer an extensive library of information on alcohol in the workplace including facts, tips and advice. The charity also highlights its awareness campaigns aiming to reduce the risks of alcohol. For more information click here.
Constructing Better Health provides a simple and effective summary on drugs and alcohol testing. The document covers why work-related drugs and alcohol testing is important and addresses CBH guidance on testing and outcomes. For more information click here.
DrugWise presents a full list of definitions on the most commonly used drugs found in the industry. This includes description, effects and the risk when used in the workplace. For more information click here.
Close law and legislation

Law and legislation

The subject of drugs and alcohol does not just pose a risk to health and safety, it also raises legal concerns. The following law and legislation below highlights exactly how issues within this topic can cross over into a legal matter:

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

The unlawful production, supply and possession of illegally controlled substances unless prescribed by a doctor. It is also illegal for an employer to knowingly permit the production, supply and possession of such substances on their premises. 

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Employers must maintain a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their workforce where practical. It is possible for the employer to be prosecuted if knowingly allows a member of the workforce to operate under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol that could place his/her or others at risk.

Transport and Works Act 1992

It is a criminal offence for employees to be unfit for work whilst under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and working on transport systems such as railways. It is also an offence for transport system operators to not attempt to prevent the above offence from being committed.

Road Traffic Act 1988

Any employee under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol who is unfit to drive and/or be in charge of a vehicle is guilty of an offence. It is specified to be an offence when alcohol concentration is above the current prescribed limit.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

Employers are required to assess the additional risk to the health and safety of the individual and/or others when operating work equipment.

Human Rights Act 1998

The rights of the individual must be balanced against another in order to determine the safety and protection of the community. A drugs and alcohol policy is justified where the safety of the public is at risk.

Close External resources

External resources

There are many awareness campaigns and resources dedicated to the subject of drugs and alcohol: 

  • Cancer Research UK will be hosting their Dryathlon in September 2016. Running from start to finish of the month, the campaign encourages sponsorship of participants cutting back on drinking alcohol. As well as aiming to get the conversation started on alcohol and the effects, all money raised is then donated to Cancer Research UK and its causes.
  • Drinkaware provides research, reports and resources on drinking habits and lifestyles. A full host of campaigns are currently running, including ‘Pub of the Future’, which is trialling digitally available information about drinking that can be accessed through NFC and QR codes at pubs. To discover more Drinkaware campaigns click here.
  • ScreenSafe provide expert advice, services and resources on drug and alcohol testing and training. ScreenSafe marked its 10th anniversary by attending the Health and Safety event, ‘NEC’, in Birmingham, which ran from 11th-13th March 2016. The ‘Safety is not an Accident’ ethos will be promoted to properly implement a drugs and alcohol policy that fits around the company. Find more details here.
  • Alcohol Research UK has recently published a new report showcasing the impact of alcohol and changes during the last 30 years of research. Following the company’s annual conference, ‘Critical Measures: Next steps in alcohol research and policy’, the report shows how the company has helped change alcohol policy and practice to reduce the effects of alcohol harm. Find out more here.
  • British Liver Trust is currently running a national awareness campaign ‘Love Your Liver’. This provides advice on how to maintain a healthy liver through three simple steps. Take your own personal liver screen test online here.
  • Transform Drug Policy Foundation is currently running the ‘Anyone’s Child’ establishing a network for families who have experienced one of their own members being affected by drugs. The campaign attended a significant position at the United Nations in New York on 18th April 2016. To find out more click here.
  • Release runs multiple campaigns dedicated around the law and legalities side of drugs and alcohol. ‘Better Drug Laws Now’ focuses on the decriminalisation of users who require help for their problematic use of drugs rather than criminal conviction. To look at past campaigns click here.
  • NHS Change 4 Life offers a variety of information and resources including tips to reduce drinking habits and lead a healthier lifestyle. Last year’s Alcohol Awareness week was supported with an ‘Alcohol Awareness Toolkit 2015’ that can be downloaded here.
  • Talk to Frank maintains a wide range of services including information on drugs, advice to reduce the harm, and support for confidential counselling and treatment. To find a full A-Z list of drugs with the associated risks and laws click here.
  • UK Government provides official guidelines and support on the drug testing procedure in the workplace. Such information proves useful for both the employer carrying out procedures correctly and also the employee to understand their rights. The ‘Being monitored at work: worker’s rights’ can be found here.

What is currently being done in the industry?

  • Constructing Better Health provides information on drugs and alcohol testing in the industry through numerous online resources. Testing procedures, industry standards, policy templates and more can be found here.
  • Brake runs simultaneous national and regional campaigns through the year, focusing on various aspects of road safety. ‘Not a drop, not a drag’ aims to enforce a zero tolerance policy on drink and drug driving, asking participants to pledge their commitment. To find more campaigns by Brake click here.
  • THINK! provides information to encourage safer behaviour on the roads by working collaboratively with organisations and law enforcement for maximum reach and impact. Find further details on both drug and alcohol related driving.
  • HSE provides free resources and information regarding drugs and alcohol in the workplace that focuses both on the employee and the employer. Covering key aspects such as impacts and effects, what to look for, policy etc. You can download ‘Don’t mix it’ – a guide for employers handbook and ‘Drug misuse at work’ – a guide for employers from the HSE website.
  • Trade Union Congress (TUC) includes an extensive literature source on drug testing in the workplace covering aspects such as types of testing, effectiveness, law and legislation and more. The document can be viewed and/or downloaded here.

What is happening outside of the United Kingdom?

  • Australian construction trade union CFMEU launched the ‘Drugs or Alcohol Not at Work’ campaign in 2012. Building and construction is also a high risk industry in Australia where the misuse of alcohol and other drugs may increase the likelihood of accidents or injury. ‘Drugs or Alcohol Not at Work’ was set up to raise awareness among construction workers and to link them with local drug and alcohol support and recovery services.
Other Spotlight on... campaigns