The British Medical Association (BMA) has published new guidance, Alcohol, drugs and the workplace – The role of medical professionals, a tool for medical professionals to help patients and employers address alcohol and illicit drugs in the workplace. The full guidance report can be downloaded at https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/occupational-health/alcohol-drugs-and-the-workplace.
This publication has been produced by the BMA’s Occupational Medicine Committee and offers information, support and advice not just to medical professionals but all health professionals to address alcohol and illegal drugs in the workplace. With 8,748 alcohol-related deaths in 2011, as well as 1,785 linked to illegal drugs use, alcohol and illicit drug use is prevalent in those who are in work. This is a significant workplace issue and a growing concern for employers as a result of lower productivity, inappropriate behaviour, and poor performance linked to alcohol and illicit drugs use.
This guidance highlights that only one in seven workers has access to a qualified occupational physician, with many relying on their GP or hospital specialist for advice relating to fitness to work. It is essential that employers ensure that workers have access to an occupational health service, particularly those who have an alcohol or drug-related problem. However, given the current poor coverage of access, it is fundamental that all doctors understand the risks associated with alcohol and drugs use amongst those who work.