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Should workplaces be allowed to breathalyse staff during the Christmas party season?…

Submitted by on November 18, 2015 – 6:00 am |

Group Of Friends Enjoying Evening Drinks In BarAs the festive season approaches, should workplaces be more concerned about staff coming into work while still under the influence of alcohol? New research by facilities management specialists, Direct365, found that 24.5% of people openly admit that they intend to consume alcohol on a ‘work night’ during the Christmas party season.

Alcohol Awareness Week, running from the 16th – 22nd November, aims to educate people about the dangers of consuming too much alcohol. The theme of this year’s awareness week is “the impact of alcohol on health and society” which will address the repercussions that alcohol can have on our daily lives, including in the workplace.

‘Go on, it’s Christmas!’

Around this time of year, more people are encouraged to ‘get into the Christmas spirit’ by drinking alcohol more frequently, such as after-work drinks and parties. It is deemed socially acceptable to drink more than the recommended daily allowance, even if people have to work the next day.

The NHS recommends that men should drink no more than 3 – 4 units a day, while women should stick to 2 – 3 units in order to prevent any damage to their bodies. This equates to around one pint of strong beer or cider for men and a standard 175ml glass of wine for women. However, nobody is naive enough to think that Christmas revellers will follow these guidelines.

There are many factors which influence how long alcohol will stay in your system such as your weight, size, age and your individual reaction to alcohol. It is estimated that one large glass of wine (250ml) would take an average person around three hours to break down, therefore if you consume a few drinks during the night, your body will need longer to remove it from your system.

Waking from an alcohol-heavy night and starting the working day could have more sinister consequences than just a bad hangover; employees could find themselves over the drink driving limit and they could still have enough alcohol in their bloodstream to affect their performance at work.

Promoting workplace safety

While as a company you are not legally required to implement any alcohol and drug policies, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that employers have a responsibility to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff.

One way to generate awareness is to place posters around the workplace, clearly displaying how many units of alcohol is too much. While it may seem a little extreme, if your business involves working with machinery or driving of any kind, you may want to purchase some alcohol testing kits to give yourself complete peace of mind that an employee isn’t operating a vehicle over the legal limit.

Emma Gilroy, Brand Development Manager at Direct365, commented on the research:

“Many of us are guilty of drinking more than we should during the Christmas period, and nobody wants to be a festive killjoy, but when people overindulge on week nights it could have serious consequences the next day while they are at work.

“Our research shows that one in four people openly admit that they will be drinking more over the next few weeks, so businesses should take extra precautions to ensure safety in the workplace such as educating employees about alcohol units and having alcohol testing kits onsite.

“It may seem extreme, and you certainly don’t want to alienate staff by forcing them to line up and take a test as soon as they walk into the building, but it’s important that any employees who are still under the influence aren’t allowed to put themselves or their colleagues in danger. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

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