Do workplace policies work? An examination of the relationship between AOD policies and workers' substance use
The prevalence of employee alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is gaining prominence in Australia and internationally. The workplace provides an important opportunity to prevent, identify and manage health problems among employees, including AOD use. An increasingly common strategy is the implementation of workplace AOD policies. These policies seek to curb employees’ substance use and promote a safe and healthy working environment.
This study explored the prevalence and impact of AOD policies in Australian workplaces. Researchers conducted a secondary analysis of the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey as well as a descriptive analysis exploring the prevalence of AOD policies in workplaces. Study results indicated that while workplace AOD policies were associated with reduced employee substance use, they were not significantly related to absence due to AOD use, attending work under the influence, or usually consuming AOD at work.
This study is the first to explore the prevalence of AOD workplace policies in Australia using a nationally representative dataset, and the relationship between policies and substance use behaviours. NCETA’s analysis provides empirical support for the value and efficacy of polices to reduce alcohol and drug problems. While basic policies on ‘use’ were associated with a reduction in high risk drinking, more comprehensive policies were required to impact drug use. Notably, alcohol/drug testing in isolation does not appear to be related to reduced employee substance use. Scope exists for Australian workplaces to implement effective AOD policies, which could result in considerable benefits for both individuals and workplaces.