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Does Your Compnay Need a Drug and Alcohol Policy?

Does your Company Need a Drug and Alcohol Policy? 

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for workers. This means protecting workers from workplace hazards, including those associated with drug and alcohol consumption and abuse. Having a policy goes a long way toward meeting your health and safety responsibility and is in the best interests for companies and workers, although it is not mandated for Canadian workplaces to do so. Typically, organizations will include in their worker health and safety policy a section on the use of drugs and alcohol while on-the-job.

At a minimum, having a drug and alcohol policy will prevent issues such as low productivity, absenteeism, misconduct, and disgruntled co-workers. And more notably, it will prevent very serious consequences, including accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

If your company is in manufacturing, trades, construction and has the following types of  jobs – equipment operators, welders, bricklayers, mechanics, millwrights – just to name a few, we strongly recommend that you have a drug and alcohol policy that specifically outlines what is prohibited. In fact, some industries conduct pre-employment and employment drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive positions.

Benefits of having a drug and alcohol policy

Having a drug and alcohol policy will:

  • Reduce workplace injuries.
  • Educate workers on health and safety risks and provide clear standards of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
  • Avert productivity problems associated with alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Protect workers from workplace hazards associated with drug or alcohol use.
  • Decrease Workers Compensation Claims and other possible litigation from happening should a worker have an accident on-the-job from alcohol or drug use.
  • Providing guidelines for balancing safety and privacy
  • Being able to identify and refer workers who have drug and/or alcohol problems.
  • Promote a healthy and safe work environment for all workers.

Guidelines for creating a drug and alcohol policy

  • Refer to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) which provides best practices for addressing substance use in the workplace and for the development of drug and alcohol policies.
  • Ensure that your policy is compliant with current human rights legislation to protect your business and workers from potential legal issues.


Include the following:

  • The amount of consumption that is allowed, if any. Be very specific, for example, is having one alcoholic beverage at a work-related dinner function permitted?
  • The amount of consumption that is prohibited. Again, be very specific. Are workers allowed to have one alcoholic beverage on their off-premises lunch break? How do you control that?
  • The consequences for consuming on-the-job.
  • The use of prescribed medication while on-the-job.
  • Confidentiality measures your company has in place should a worker be disciplined for drinking on the job for example.
  • The accommodations in place if a worker has a substance abuse problem, including the support, services, and resources you offer.


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