WHS 15/08 A

Ice in the Workplace

Long gone are the days where ‘ice’ was something to help chill your drink – the drug known as ‘ice’ is receiving a lot of publicity regarding its devastating effects on lives and families.  However, this drug can also have an effect on your workplace.

Ice is considered to be the most potent form of methamphetamine on the drug market and belongs to the ‘stimulant’ class of drugs.  Methamphetamines, such as ice, is known for their stimulant properties due to the increased levels of serotonin in the body. This regulates a person’s energy, mood and appetite, making the user feel exhilarated, energised, confident and powerful.  These effects can last between four and twelve hours.  So why is it a concern for the workplace?

Implications for workplaces

The use of methamphetamines, including ice, in the workplace has enormous implications for business owners regarding Workplace Health and Safety compliance and practices.  While under the influence, user’s concentration and ability to judge speed, distance, and coordination are severely impaired.  In addition, the immediate after effects include the inability to sleep for several days; resulting in ongoing fatigue, poor concentration and impaired judgement.  In other words. It is not safe for a person who is or has been using ice to drive, operate machinery, or work in any situation where safety is required.

Signs a worker may be using ice

It is often difficult to identify the signs and even more difficult to then manage the situation safely, appropriately and within legislative requirements.  Some signs that could indicate ice use can include:

  • Extreme tiredness at the beginning of the working week
  • Unexplained irritability, agitation or mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor work performance
  • Unexplained patterns of absenteeism/lateness
  • Mental issues such as paranoia, depression, moodiness
  • Apparent unconcern about otherwise serious matters
  • Health problems, such as poor appetite, palpitations, infection injection areas on the body or lesions

The important thing to remember is that these are only indicators, NOT all employees who are exhibiting these signs will be using drugs.  However, these observations may assist in employers/managers having performance or safety related discussions, before taking it further.

Recommended workplace strategies

As an employer, you have an obligation to eliminate risks to the health and safety of your employees while they are in your workplace.  Risk management is the process of recognising situations which have the potential to cause harm to people and property and making an informed decision about how best to avoid that harm.

  • Workplace policies – nothing can be managed or resolved without a comprehensive, clear and concise drug and alcohol policy – it forms the base for managing these issues in the workplace
  • Training – it is important that supervisors/managers are educated about the symptoms and provided with the skills and knowledge to assist in managing these issues appropriately
  • Awareness – all employees should be educated on the company policy, the effects of drugs and alcohol, the impact it could have on the workplace and their ongoing employment

There is a generic policy in your Workplace Health and Safety manual – however if you haven’t communicated this to staff it does not afford you much protection.  Brismark can assist you in upgrading the generic policy to a workplace specific policy that can include testing programs and procedures for investigating breaches of the policy.  In addition, we can provide you and your staff with a training session to assist in not only implementing your policy but educating them on the effects of drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

If you want to find out more or would like Brismark to assist you in writing and implementing a workplace policy, please contact Business Services on 3915 4213 or [email protected].

Source:  CCIQ blog, by Colin Fruk, 24 September 2015

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