Risks and responsibilities

View the risks and responsibilities involved when it comes to alcohol and other drugs in the workplace.

Concerns about alcohol, drugs and driving

Research has demonstrated that drivers with alcohol and/or drugs in their system are more likely to be involved in a crash. This can either be because they are the cause or because they are unable to take immediate action to prevent an incident caused by another person. 

Around 1 in 5 drivers killed had a blood alcohol concentration 0.05% or more (the legal limit for large vehicle drivers in Victoria is 0.00%) and 12% had drugs in their system.

Some Australians use alcohol and drugs when socialising but some use these substances for other reasons, including during stressful situations and to relieve pain.

Over a 12 month period, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (2016) found that:

  • 26% misused alcohol at least once a month
  • 13% consumed illegal drugs
  • 5% misused pharmaceutical drugs (excluding over-the-counter pharmaceuticals).

Risks

The most obvious risks are crashes, injuries and fatalities, but risks can also include:

  • damage to your vehicle and any equipment or customer goods inside
  • replacement vehicle and equipment costs
  • lost work time from employees being injured, in court or losing their licence
  • administrative time in dealing with the crash
  • reputation loss for your business
  • possible increase in insurance premium and unsuccessful insurance claims due to alcohol and drugs being a factor in the crash TAC and Workcover compensation being reduced.
Victoria Police conduct regular roadside breath tests for alcohol and saliva tests for drugs. Police can also require drivers to undertake blood testing if they have reason to believe that someone is driving while impaired, driving under the influence of a drug or if a driver is involved in a serious injury crash.
 
Driving While Impaired and Driving Under the Influence laws apply to any impairing drug, including pharmaceutical drugs. 

Many people don’t realise that: 

  • they can still be under the influence after drinking the night before 
  • a hangover or medication can affect their fitness for work
  • a drug can remain in their system for a varying amount of time.

This lack of awareness can result in some drivers getting behind the wheel without understanding the risks.  

Responsibilities

Everybody in the workplace has a responsibility when it comes to health and safety. There are a range of factors that impact on an employee’s ability to work safely, including alcohol and drugs.
 
Research has demonstrated that an employee’s work can deteriorate when they are intoxicated, hungover, or ‘coming down’ from drugs or taking medication. This can manifest in:
  • slow reaction time
  • clumsiness
  • blurred vision
  • tiredness
  • bad judgement
  • memory loss
  • mood changes leading to aggressive behaviour.

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