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Legal rights and obligations

Health & Saftey at Work Act 1974

As an employer, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, “it is the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.” If an employer knowingly allowed an employee under the influence of alcohol or drugs to continue working and this placed the employee or others at risk, the employer could be liable to charges.

It is also the duty of employees “to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.”  Employees could be liable to charge if their alcohol consumption or drug-taking put safety at risk.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Under these regulations, employers have a duty to assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees

The Transport and Works Act 1992

This act states that it is a criminal offence for certain workers to be unfit through drink and/or drugs while working on railways, tramways and other guided transport systems.

The operators for whom such employees work would also be guilty of an offence unless they had “exercised all due diligence” to prevent the offence being committed.

Road Traffic Act 1988

The Road Traffic Act of 1988 states that any person who, when driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs shall be guilty of an offence. An offence is also committed if a person unfit through drink or drugs is in charge of a motor vehicle in the same circumstances.

Health and Safety Executive

The Health & Safety Executive have published two reports:

These documents address the benefits to employers and businesses by successfully tackling alcohol & drugs misuse in the workplace.

The HSE encourage employers to create a ‘policy on drug misuse‘ as part of their organisation’s overall Health & Safety policy.

World Health Organisation

According to the World Health Organisation global action plan, every employee should have access to a health consultation service at work.

Last Updated on January 11, 2022 by