Stewards & OHS Delegates

This information was written by Incolink for Victorian OHS Delegates and Shop Stewards. OHS Delegates and Shop Stewards in other states and territories may also find this information relevant or they can check the policies for their state or territory.

Alcohol or other drugs on site is an occupational health and safety issue. Information and support is also available from the OHS&E manager at your local union branch.
Delegates Guide

The Victorian Building and Construction Alcohol and Other Drug Program is designed for workers in the building and construction industry.

It is supported by the Incolink Drug & Alcohol Support Workers who can see workers at the Incolink office, their workplace or home, to offer assistance with drug and alcohol related issues.
Industry Drug & Alcohol Program – Site Policy

The policy has bipartisan support of employers and unions and has been operating successfully for over 20 years.

The key aspect of this policy is that safety is paramount on building sites. It also states that workers on site who may be affected by alcohol or drugs be given every chance to rehabilitate so they can return to work safely.

There is an Alcohol and Other Drug Advisory Committee consisting of union and employer association OH&S specialists, who oversee the policy and respond to emerging drug and alcohol issues that affect the industry.

The policy is a guide for what to do when there are drug or alcohol issues on a worksite. Incolink Drug and Alcohol Support workers are also available for advice and support and we encourage members to make use of them. Get on the front foot by inviting Drug and Alcohol Support workers to address tool box meetings so they can explain the policy, talk about Member Services in general, and describe their role as drug and alcohol counsellors.

There are times when someone may be experiencing difficulties in their life due to drug or alcohol issues. Let all workers know that there are drug and alcohol counsellors available to them that know the industry and that the service is free and confidential.
Drugs or Alcohol Not at Work

‘Drugs or Alcohol Not at Work’ is the slogan of the industry Alcohol and Other Drug program. There are a number of key messages that make up this important site policy:

Site Policy

Safety is paramount on building sites
This policy applies to everyone on site without distinction
A person dangerously affected by drugs or alcohol will not be allowed to work until that person can work in a safe manner
A decision on a person’s ability to work in a safe manner will be made by the Safety Committee
A person affected by drugs or alcohol will be cautioned in accordance with the agreed procedure
A Safety Committee will provide information to persons seeking help for their drug or alcohol problem

Sick leave or leave without pay can be negotiated for a person’s drug or alcohol problem
No one will be disadvantaged in the workplace as a result of undertaking a rehabilitation program

Approaching workers who are unsafe for work

Workers may present in an unsafe manner for work for a number of reasons, including:

A physical health issue
A mental health problem
The effects of prescribed medication

It’s not always an easy conversation to start but remember it’s about safety; both for the worker concerned and the people working alongside them.

Regardless of the reason, all workers need to be approached in the same manner if it is identified they are working in an unsafe manner.

Steps to assist:

Find a supporter – aside from another union delegate or OH&S rep, is there somebody else who knows the person well, is happy to be involved and is seeing things the same way you do?
Create the space – take the person away from the main work area and have the conversation in private. In the sheds, in a quiet corner, on the street – just anywhere where there won’t be an audience or an avoidable interruption
Adopt non-threatening body language and speech – being non-threatening doesn’t mean you can’t be firm. But by remaining cool and calm there’s more chance the person you’re talking to will remain cool and calm

The Conversation

Give them a way out – ask them open-ended questions so they are able to disclose what’s happening for them. This also covers you in case they are having a medical or mental health related incident:
“I’ve brought you aside mate, because I’m concerned you might not be travelling too well…What’s up – is there anything troubling you?”
“I wanted to talk to you in private because I’m concerned about your safety and it’s my job to make sure you’re ok…tell me about your day so far.”
“You don’t look like your normal self today mate, what’s happening?”
Let them know that you are operating under the industry Alcohol and Other Drug Policy, that is supported by the unions, and is designed to keep people safe at work and also to provide help to those with drug and alcohol related issues.
Explain that if drugs or alcohol are becoming an issue in a person’s life that there are people at Incolink they can talk to for free and they won’t be disadvantaged at work because of it
Familiarise yourself with the Victorian Building and Construction Industry Alcohol and Drugs Policy so you can use it as a framework to build your conversation around. There are some key points listed below:

Create a safer future at work

Create a culture on site that does not support people being substance-affected at work by:

Being firm with anybody who may be suspected of being substance-affected at work
Regularly discussing it with employers and at safety meetings
Invite Incolink to talk at a toolbox meeting so people can hear about the policy and meet the Drug and Alcohol Support Workers
Circulate Incolink brochures so that people know there are range of services to help people that are becoming depressed or stressed. These feelings often underpin drug and alcohol misuse
Continue to promote a work/life balance and healthy living
Consider becoming a dry site

Contact Incolink Drug & Alcohol Support Workers

If you have any queries relating to counselling and support, or drug and alcohol use:

Member Services

Email: memserv@incolink.org.au

Telephone: (03) 9668 3061

Drug & Alcohol Support Workers:

Gary Wright: 0419 560 958

Lewis Burnside: 0437 104 103