Christmas office parties may include unwelcome cocktails – New roadside drug testing launched December 1st 2022.

Waterford Christmas Train

Cocktail of potential safety risks

A new roadside test was introduced on the 1st December 2022. It is more portable, faster at delivering results and can not only test for Cannabis, Cocaine, Benzodiazepines and Opiates, this device can, unlike its predecessor, test for Amphetamine and Methamphetamine. The use of which can have a carry-over impact on safety and employer liability in the workplace if consumed at Christmas office parties.

Duty of care to third parties

Under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997, companies have a duty to employees of others, visitors and guests. The company is obliged to manage and conduct their undertakings in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that in the course of work being carried out, individuals at the place of work, who are not their employees, are not exposed to risks to their safety, health and welfare. This includes the consumption of intoxicants defined as drugs and alcohol at any company sponsored event.

Compliance with Safety Legislation

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 Section 8 and section 80[1] place a responsibility on senior managers to manage and conduct work activities and prevent improper conduct and behaviour likely to put employees at risk. This duty extends to protecting all employees and guests from harm, including those who may be under the influence of intoxicants (defined as drugs and alcohol), whilst attending social and corporate events organised by the company, including the attendance at training events, annual Christmas party, retirement functions or any other event organised by the Company, all of which are now seen as extensions of the workplace.

Manager’s responsibility

Managers should lead by example in terms of their own behaviour when on duty or representing company interests. This includes attendance at any corporate hosting event organised by the company. Managers and board members who attend various functions such as chambers of commerce, business in the community and other such events, in and out of the country, are also subject to corporate hosting guidelines.

Policies currently in place in companies should include a risk assessment on intoxicants at and during social events and communicated to all staff members.

Further information from Maurice Quinlan