ADF warns employers to watch Yuletide intoxication

A new workplace poll conducted by the Australian Drug Foundation shows that unless employers plan properly, they could be facing liability for employees’ injuries and behaviour.

With the Christmas period almost upon us, The Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) is advising employers to plan carefully in order to ensure that the season brings you only pleasant surprises.

The ADF recently conducted a workplace poll which produced alarming results.

The survey showed that one in five Victorian workers has experienced unwanted or inappropriate behaviour at a work function from someone who has been under the influence of alcohol.

It also showed that three workers per hundred had suffered an injury resulting from intoxication at a work function.

Phillip Collins, head of workplace services at the ADF, warned that employers – particularly in large organisations – should take these figures on board.

“For organisations with a couple of hundred staff, these statistics warn us that if a Responsible Service of Alcohol policy is not adhered to, you could have a dozen injuries and potential liability claims,” he said. “It’s not just about protecting the safety of your employees but ensuring the reputation of your business remains intact. Better still, work functions are a good opportunity to promote the company’s image of being a responsible employer and safe, healthy workplace.”

He also stressed that employers should take the responsibility to ensure that staff get home safely from work functions.

“It’s important companies plan for and deliver a function which ensures all staff members enjoy an incident free night and get home safely.”

The ADF shared the following tips for employers who are planning a workplace party over the festive season:

1. Serve ‘mocktails’ (non-alcoholic drinks) at the start of the party. It’s a lot of fun and gives staff choices.
2. Increase the amount of non-alcoholic drinks available.
3. Consider limiting drinks to beer and wine and avoid high alcohol content drinks.
4. Promote your organisation’s Code of Conduct before the event so everyone knows what’s expected of them.
5. Appoint someone to be responsible for overseeing that the festivities run smoothly and to be the point of call should any problems arise on the day. Ensure this person is not drinking.
6. Ensure your employees are being served by Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) trained bar staff.
7. Avoid table service and ‘top-ups’ as it makes it harder for employees to keep track of how many drinks they’ve had.
8. Stop service of alcohol during formalities and speeches. This will help reduce the chance of high levels of intoxication.
9. Provide plenty of free water.
10. Promote your event as a fun, activity-filled celebration where alcohol is not the focus.

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