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Responsible drinking

Why promote responsible alcohol consumption?

While alcohol often plays a big part in our culture, our celebrations and our entertaining, it can also have a variety of negative effects. These can be costly, both to employers and employees, financially and socially.

While it is ultimately an individual’s decision to drink alcohol, its misuse can sometimes be linked back to the workplace and work practices; such as work environment, shift work, alcohol availability, workplace culture and interpersonal relationships.

Across all industries, many people increase their risk of lifelong harm by drinking more than two standard drinks per day, often without including alcohol free days.

How do we help employees to drink responsibly?

Workplaces are a really good setting for promoting healthy attitudes towards responsible alcohol consumption, especially through workplace education and promotion. On top of these, employers can also lead by example at work events and functions. A combination of healthy promotions responsible actions and leadership will add strength to your message.

Ideas to get you started

Description Healthy vision Healthy places Healthy people
Develop and implement a formal workplace alcohol policy including the responsible service of alcohol, in consultation with employees.    
Conduct information sessions where staff can be informed about the policy and the rationale, and have the opportunity to ask questions.    
Embed alcohol support procedures into OHS&W officer procedures and policies.    
Update your (your manager/employers) knowledge  of South Australian legislation relevant to alcohol.    
Include an alcohol policy and information in staff induction materials.    
Promote standard drink sizes and drink driving reminders in the workplace.  
Promote the use of support services such as the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) and allow confidential access to these services during work hours.    
Promote information about the safe consumption of alcohol and the harms of alcohol, including the Australian drinking guidelines in communication and media, for example newsletters, memos and CEO updates.    
Provide in-house training or seminars on safe alcohol consumption and the key requirements to respond to alcohol in the workplace.    
Remind staff that a General Practitioner can assist, support and provide referrals to other health professionals as needed.    
Workplace Employee Assistance Programs deliver confidential assessments and short term counselling to employees who have voluntarily or been referred to their EAP through workplace policy.    
In planning informal social occasions, replace providing drinks or trips to the local pub/bar with other activities. This might include informal team activities such as kicking the footy or going bowling.    
Provide plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and food on occasions that alcohol will be offered and spread the message of your expectations that individuals act responsibly.  
Provide alternative public transport options from workplace events, that will offer alcoholic beverages.  

Building on your program

Description Healthy vision Healthy places Healthy people
Consider training needs of managers or team leaders so that they can recognise and react appropriately to the impact of alcohol within the workplace.    
Host on site brief interventions in the workplace to help employees change their alcohol use.    
Develop and implement a health promotion program focusing on the overall health of employees and incorporating information regarding harms associated with alcohol.    

Support and resources

There are a number of places you can go for more information and support on this topic, as well as ways to help employees reduce alcohol misuse. Download 'Strategies to promote responsible alcohol consumption guide: what to do and where to find support' (PDF 282KB)

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