Staying Safe At Work Over The Festive Season

Posted on written by Sam Barton

What do you associate with this time of year?

Snow, presents, family? What about that feeling of regret the next morning after the works’ Christmas party?

For many of us, the festive season is a time to drink a bit more than is recommended and while this generally makes for a good time, coming into work still under the influence from the night before presents a lot of issues from a health and safety standpoint.

This week we are going to have a look at what the law says about being under the influence of alcohol at work and what employers can do to minimise this risk.

The Legislation

So, you’ve had your Christmas night out or maybe you have just met up with some friends after work. “I’ll just have one” turned into a pretty heavy night and now you have a full day of work ahead.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 an employer has a duty to ensure the safety of all staff and it is also an offence to knowingly allow someone to work when they are still under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

While commuting to work isn’t the responsibility of the employer – thousands of people lose their licence every year by being breathalysed the next day – there are some tips that can be communicated to staff to ensure that they get to work safely and legally.

Alcohol and the Workplace

There are differences between how much of an issue the night before can be in certain workplaces.

We’ve all had a hangover to some degree and even if you don’t feel particularly bad, alcohol still has the ability to cause problems the next day. These can include:

  • Reduced reaction times
  • Increased sense of false confidence
  • Poor judgement
  • Decrease in work skills and productivity

Now, sitting at your desk all day isn’t generally going to cause the same health and safety problems as working on a busy and dangerous construction site however each workplace has its own issues where alcohol is concerned.

This isn’t just a problem at Christmas time. A survey found that nearly 2 in every 3 people had concerns about drugs and alcohol in the construction industry. 25% admitted that the effects of alcohol increased their tiredness at work and 23% agreed that their attention span was reduced the next day.

Staying Safe Over Christmas

It’s easy to simply say – Don’t drink if you have work the next day!

While this is the safest advice if you are going to have a drink the night before work then keep it sensible especially if you are working in a high-risk environment such as a construction site. You might feel OK the next morning but your reaction times and judgement are likely to be affected enough to potentially cause a serious accident at work or even result in an accident before you get to work.

We may be some time off having hangover free alcohol so ensure that you think about your own safety and the safety of those around you at work this Christmas.

Staying safe at work over the festive season - Health and safety at work

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