A new awareness campaign for VicRoads is highlighting the extreme danger of alcohol and drugs play in the vehicles workplace and the need for organisations to reconsider their existing policies.
At a seminar held in the organisation’s head office in Kew earlier this week, startling figures revealed that 1 in 5 riders and drivers involved in a fatal vehicle accident had a blood alcohol reading above the legal limit and that 1 in 8 of those drivers had an illicit drug substance in them.
Recent studies compiled by VicRoads found some of the key implications drunk driving and drug has on an organisation can include the impairment of drivers, crashes, insurance implications and ultimately damage to your reputation. Though perhaps more concerning is the ways in which those policies were – or weren’t – being monitored by organisations of different sizes.
“What we found was that in the ‘big end of town’ many organisations have the right policies and procedures in place but they might not be as robust when you got into the smaller companies,” VicRoads Senior Policy Officer for Driver Performance Victoria Pyta said.
“Through that process we learnt a lot about the industry and how diverse it is – we have a great deal of vehicles that do as many kilometres on our inner CBD roads and the risk comes in how they interact with other road users.”
How to manage? Policy > Communicate > Educate
It is important to remember that a workplace includes vehicles used for work purposes. Organisations have a social and legal obligation to give their drivers safe and must be providing adequate means to ensure this is happening. VicRoads has developed a template policy to allow easy adoption of a policy, while also allowing room for optional extras.
There is also an easy 20-minute induction program providing quizzes and information for drivers about the dangers of alcohol and drugs on their body, alongside fact sheets for managers to use to assist them in managing their employees.
General Manager for HSEQ UGL Asset Services David Fitzgerald said that when creating a new policy, organisations that used the knowledge and input of their own employees were far more likely to have a better outcome than those that didn’t seek that advice.
“I’ve found going through the consultation process people often ask really good questions that force us to go back and test our policies,” he said.
“Support is a key part of this, in my experience – make use of the tools at your disposal”
Geoff Munro, National Policy Manager, Alcohol and Drug Foundation agreed that an open and honest dialogue between employers and employees was necessary to increase the emphasis on drug and alcohol safety awareness.
“They [fleet managers] have a responsibility to educate their employees on the dangers of drugs and alcohol on the road,” he said.
“It is important that employers consult with their employees on this issue and are part of a conversation leading to introduction or re-evaluation of a policy”
General VicRoad drug and alcohol resources are available here.