Canadian Contractor

Alcohol and substance abuse in the workplace

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August 12, 2014 by Alec Caldwell

I watched as the police officer dragged him out of his company vehicle on a Saturday morning. It was just after 9:15am. His vehicle had mounted the curb at a traffic light. Luckily no one was injured or killed. He was so drunk he couldn’t stand up when he got out of the car. The officer had to uncuff him to allow him the flexibility to stand up. Once he was safely inside the police cruiser the officer removed a half empty bottle in a brown bag from under the front seat.

Had he injured himself or someone else or, worst case scenario, had there been a fatality, an investigation by the Ministry of Labour would have pulled in the company he represents in order to examine its policy and procedures with regards to workplace substance abuse. There could have been serious fines levied. What’s your policy to cover such an event?

The awareness of substance abuse such as alcohol or illicit drugs, or that some people misuse prescription drugs is not new. It’s the employers responsibility to insure workers in the workplace are not under the influence of alcohol or other stimulants, including prescribed drugs.

Your policies and procedures should cover drug abuse issues. They should include such things as: a definition of substance abuse, how to deal with impaired workers, a statement in what circumstances drug or alcohol testing can be conducted and a provision for disciplinary action. To be safe, always consult a lawyer to ensure you policies follow the law in your province.

In the workplace, employers should be looking for workers with impaired judgment, slowed reflexes, impaired motor function, sleepiness or drowsiness, distorted sense of time, impaired memory and impaired coordination.

The Center on Substance Abuse (CCSA), reports that substance abuse cost the Canadian economy more than $39.8 billion in 2002. Who knows what the situation has become since then.

By providing education and training, CARAHS reduces your risk of fines, job site closures and prosecution under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Passion – Commitment – CARAHS – Toll free 1 866-366 2930

CARAHS has over 130 online Health & Safety e-courses. Check out online Alcohol and Drug Awareness course




Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell

Alec Caldwell is the Founder of CARAHS, a Health & Safety Organization. We are approved providers by the Ministry of Labour (Ontario) to teach Working at Heights Training (Pro#34609) Visit the Ministry of Labour's web site to view our listing
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3 Comments » for Alcohol and substance abuse in the workplace
  1. Joe Greps says:

    Just curious if true, never once got asked for testing in Ontario and heard it was not allowed, it seems pretty common place in AB.

    Not an indulger myself and on one hand it feels like a privacy intrusion but knowing the guy in a lift above me isn’t high as a kite – I can live with it.

    That said the delusional tinfoil hat nutjobs running airport scanners can die in a fire.

  2. Questo says:

    Alec, the situation above mention is really sad, but I am not surprised at all.
    The way our Province is going economically, we will see more situations like this one. The government loves LCBO’s, everywhere, its like a new religion; the government makes money both ways, same as the Tabaco industry. In part they are responsible, they had open the doors for this sad situations.

    However, for any human being to reach a situation like this, he/she must had been trough a lot of stress on their lives, apparently they are already sick, maybe mental problems too.

    I believe this gentleman should be evaluated for mental issues before police charges.

    I only hope this wasn’t a false flag operation, for more government control.

    Take care Alec,

  3. edward says:

    I will tell you guys a story. In my career as a plumber and working for various plumbing service companies. I had the pleasure (sarcasm) of working with one other plumber who would rinse and drink a shot of mouthwash before knocking on a customers door. Multiply that by 4 or 5 times a day. This individual also used to brag he was arrested for drinking and driving (personal vehicle) and as a result required a chaperone to drive him to calls for a year or so. Amazed me why this company allowed this individual to continue working there, who I assume still does.

    Alcoholics and drug abusers are abundant out there. So to the poster above, LCBO is not required to get drunk… work in service industry, where appearance is key. You will be amazed how many service reps drive around with mouthwash in their vehicles! it is a big problem.