|Managers Exposed to Personal Liability for Workplace Intoxicants
Many directors and managers are unaware that they may be liable if their company is convicted of
an offence relating to workplace intoxicants (defined as drugs and alcohol), under section 80(1) of
the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005. The widely held view is that no action is required
on workplace intoxicants until such time as regulations, code of practice or guidance on intoxicants
are published by the Health and Safety Authority.
Section 13(1) b of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 states that an employee, while
at work will ? ?ensure that he or she is not under the influence of and intoxicant to the extent that he of she is in such a state as to endanger his or her own safety, health or welfare at work or that of any other person?
and Section 13(1)c states that ? ?if reasonably required by his or her employer, submit to any
appropriate, reasonable and proportionate tests for intoxicants by, or under the supervision of, a
registered medical practitioner who is a competent person, as may be prescribed?.
It is the intention of the HSA to publish an information leaflet on intoxicants and post information on the HSA website early in 2011. No legally binding regulations, guidance or code of practice on intoxicants will be issued by the HSA.
In the light of this development, Maurice Quinlan, Director of EAP Institute stressed that ?all
Directors and Managers should be aware that if an employee, in contravention of Section 13(1) b
of the Act, causes a serious or fatal accident under the influence of an intoxicant and if it is found
that directors or managers authorised, consented to or neglected to take action to prevent the
offence then, under Section 80(1) of the Act directors and managers may have personal liability?.
Quinlan recommends that safety critical companies, and those with safety critical workers,
intending to introduce intoxicant testing should ensure that this provision is included, where
possible, in contracts of employment and that policies and procedures are agreed with employee
representatives. All testing should comply with the European Workplace Drug Testing Society
(EWDTS) legally defensible guidelines and should be conducted with a Standard Operating
Procedure (SOP), designed to provide safeguards for those undergoing testing.
Guidelines on managing the risk of intoxicants have been issued by the EAP Institute and may be found here
The Institute is also conducting a series of national seminars ?Managing the Performance, Safety and Health Risks of Employee Drug and Alcohol Use?, details here