What Is A Safe Drug & Alcohol Policy for Businesses?

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Taking alcohol or using any substance can constitute major health problems and can severely impair on a person’s driving ability.  It is important to be both physically and mentally fit while on the road so as to not pose a danger to both the driver and other road users.

Businesses are now adopting strict drug and alcohol limit policies to ensure workplace safety and accident-free driving for its workers, especially staff who work in the field, marketing department and other outfield units.

Drug use severely impacts a person’s vision, mental balance and concentration levels while driving. And when multiple drugs are used, the probability of fatalities is tripled as each drug significantly contributes to the impact of the others. This is particularly true if one of the drugs is alcohol.

Statistics on the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs paint an even grimmer picture for individuals and organisations that don’t take serious setting limits on substance use.  In the US, one third of traffic accidents are caused by alcohol-impaired driving. Alcohol is also identified as the most commonly used and abused drug in the country.

Across all 50 states of the US, traffic officers use a standard measure called Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to determine the alcohol content level in a driver and if they are fit to drive. A driver may be convicted of “driving while intoxicated” if their BAC level reads 0.8% or higher, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment and withdrawal of the driving license.

Setting the Right Alcohol & Drug Limit for Workers

As an entrepreneur, it is important that you set up a Drugs and Alcohol policy, and one of first things you’ll have to decide on is the limit. Some organisations which are categorized in a high risk working environment like rigs, have a zero alcohol and drug policy!

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the current allowed drink-drive alcohol limit is 35µg (micrograms) per 100ml Breath, which is almost double of the 22µg legal limit in Scotland and some other European countries. Other European countries like France, Ireland and Sweden, set an even lower legal driving limit of 9µg.

So as a business owner in the UK, what alcohol limit should you set for your employees? You must first note that as different individuals, our body’s reaction and tolerance level to alcohol are not the same. Some are higher than others, which means that if everyone drinks the same amount of alcohol, the alcohol concentration level will differ from person to person.

Before deciding on a limit for your workers, a good idea is to take your breathalyser on a social experiment to see the level of effect your self-test limit has on your driving capacity. This should give you a clear conviction on what limit is safe for your staff.

You shouldn’t set a zero limit either because medically the human body has the capacity to produce up to 2 or 3 micrograms of alcohol which could be detected by a breathalyser. But if the device picks up a reading of 9 µg above, it is an indication of recent alcohol consumption of considerable quantity, which potentially triples chances of an accident. A safe alcohol and drug limit for organisations therefore would be 9 micrograms per 100ml of breath.


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