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Sample Policies and Procedures

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Substance use can affect on-the-job performance in many ways. Co-ordination becomes difficult, motor skills are impaired, and psychosocial skills differ from the norm. Developing a workplace alcohol and other drugs policy will help to protect the health and safety of your employees and minimize employer/employee liability.

Benefits of a Workplace Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy:

  • Improve workplace health and safety
  • Decrease WSIB costs
  • Reduce legal liability (PDF 913KB, pages 14 and 17)
  • Reduce absenteeism and production error
  • Demonstrate a supportive and healthy environment where both employees and management will have a clear understanding of how the organization deals with substance use in the workplace


Barriers and Considerations:

Know the Law

  • Obtain information on local, provincial and federal laws that could influence policy development at your workplace. For example:
    • Liability for the actions of impaired employees in the course of their work
    • Due diligence responsibility to ensure workplace safety
    • Response to possession or trafficking of illegal substances at work
    • Responsibilities with regard to employees with disabilities (including dependency on alcohol and other drugs)
    • Requirements of any collective agreement
    • Responsibilities when serving alcohol at corporate parties and events
  • Seek legal advice once the policy is drafted

Who needs to be involved?

  • All stakeholders including health and safety committees, union representatives, Human Resources, your EAP provider, etc.
  • All levels of management

What should be considered?

Elements of the policy would include:

  • statement of the purpose and objectives of the program
  • definition of substance abuse
  • statement of who is covered by the policy and/or program
  • statement of the employee’s rights to confidentiality
  • that arrangements have been made for employee education (e.g., a substance-free awareness program)
  • that arrangements have been made for training employees, supervisors, and others in identifying impaired behaviour and substance abuse
  • provision for assisting chronic substance abusers
  • outline of how to deal with impaired workers
  • if necessary, statement of under what circumstances drug or alcohol testing will be conducted
  • provision for disciplinary actions

How do I communicate the policy to my employees?

  • Examine office norms that may hinder policy implementation
  • Educate employees about the relationship between substance abuse and workplace injury
  • Provide information on the effects of over-the counter and prescription drugs which can also lead to employees being impaired
  • Include policy communication to employees as a mandatory component of orientation
  • Include an Employee Assistance Program in your benefits package and encourage employee use

How do I make sure the policy is effective?

  • Assess what your organization may be doing to enable substance abuse (e.g. keeping alcohol on site, drinking at holiday/retirement parties, or providing alcohol as prizes at corporate events)
  • Evaluate the policy with respect to implementation and effectiveness
  • Review the policy periodically to ensure it remains current (invite employee and manager feedback)


Additional Resources


Revised: November 03, 2015


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