What are some of the issues that could arise when there is alcohol/drug use at the workplace?
Drug or alcohol abuse in the workplace may result in:
• mistakes, accidents and injuries
• damage to workplace equipment
• a decrease in productivity
• reputational damage
What are some of the relevant laws?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (“OSHA”) requires employers to ensure, as far as practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees. OSHA does not expressly state that employers must develop and implement policies relating to alcohol and drug related problems. However, it is arguable that the obligation to ensure employees’ safety and health is wide enough to cover such issues. This interpretation would be in line with the guideline issued by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Ministry of Human Resources (“Guideline”) relating to drug and alcohol problems in the workplace.
Depending on the circumstances, employers may also be vicariously liable for torts (eg: negligence) committed by impaired employees in the course of their employment, even if the impairment was caused by alcohol and/or drug use.
There are also other laws relating to the use of dangerous drugs, but they are not the subject matter of this article which relate to employers’ obligations.
Can employers impose a mandatory alcohol/drug test on employees?