Alcohol and Drugs

Last reviewed on 05/11/2012 14:43

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Alcohol and drugs at work

Too much alcohol, or the abuse of drugs, can lead to sickness and absenteeism. But what about other problems?

To put it in perspective, men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol a week (and no more than four units in one day), while the limit for women is 14 units (and no more than three units in one day). As a very rough guide, a unit of alcohol is 10 ml (1 cl) by volume (8g by weight) of pure alcohol. This is about equal to:

  • a half-pint of normal strength beer, cider, or lager
  • a pub measure of spirits (25 ml), or of fortified wine such as sherry (50 ml)
  • a small glass (125 ml) of wine containing 8% alcohol by volume.

So, three pints of beer, three times a week, is at least 18 units per week, which is towards the upper weekly safe limit for a man. But each drinking session of three pints is at least six units, which is more than the safe limit advised for a day.

Would you be happy to see someone who'd had six units of alcohol at lunch spend the afternoon trying to put together a presentation for your best customer? And a computer's not exactly a dangerous machine!

Developing an Alcohol and Drug Policy

For many businesses, a well-defined and clearly communicated Alcohol and Drug Policy is an essential part of good business practice. But how can you go about setting one up?

It's well worth getting advice and help from experts when you start to develop your own policy. They'll help you consider all the factors, such as:

  • the nature of your business (for example, if you make whisky, you're going to approach the situation slightly differently than, say, the management of a temperance society!)
  • the culture of your business: do many of your clients visit your office?
  • the reasons for introducing the policy: have you identified a problem with alcohol and drugs amongst your employees? Are you introducing the policy to help them or the company?


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→ Download our Risk Assessment Form

→ Download our Risk Assessment Form - Worked Example

→ Visit our page on Alcohol in the Workplace

→ Visit our page on Alcohol and Drugs Awareness

→ Read Don't Mix It! A Guide for Employers on Alcohol at Work (external site)

→ Visit Alcohol Focus Scotland