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One-half of employers suspected worker under influence of drugs, alcohol: Survey

Supervisors lacking training on impairment
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According to a recently released survey by law firm Fasken Martineau, 53 per cent of employers nationwide have suspected that a worker was under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs while at work in the last 12 months. Almost one-quarter of the 358 employers surveyed knew, with 100 per cent certainty, one or more workers that had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work in the last year. Moreover, 60 per cent of responders' managers and supervisors are not trained to identify workers that may be under the influence. This increases Canadian organizations’ chances of experiencing alcohol and drug related problems or safety concerns at the workplace, the survey said.

The survey also found that 79 per cent of respondents work at organizations that do not have an alcohol and drug policy that provides for random alcohol and drug testing for employees in safety sensitive positions.

The Good, the Bad and the Troubling found that more than 40 per cent of employers across Canada do not ensure that all employees are trained on the company's occupational health and safety policy and program, and are therefore vulnerable to several potentially crippling liabilities.

While the majority of Canadian organizations are aware of legal OHS requirements, many are not equipped to enforce them. The crucial areas of concern centre on the OHS policies and programs themselves; the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace; harassment and violence in the workplace; and OHS inspectors and enforcement.

"In addition to the personal dangers workers face when employers are not adequately educated and trained, failing to comply with OHS requirements leaves organizations at risk of regulatory investigations, damaging charges, costly fines and even jail terms," said Norm Keith, partner at Fasken Martineau. "Many Canadian employers are still unaware of the legislation's details, and are unclear about their legal rights in situations that are ever evolving and often tricky."

When it comes to harassment and violence, 50 per cent of companies have not conducted a workplace harassment and violence risk assessment in the last 12 months. Almost one-half of organizations have not provided every manager, supervisor and worker with training about domestic or sexual violence in the workplace.

Nearly one-half (49 per cent) of employers surveyed received a visit from an OHS inspector in the last 24 months. The majority of responders (55 per cent) reported that their organization did not provide managers or supervisors with training for what to do when an OHS inspector visits their workplace.

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