Alcohol at work

  1. I'd like to ask other OH nurses how your department deals with people found intoxicated at work.
    Do you view this as purely a disciplinary matter, hence nothing to do with the OH service? Or do you view the drunken worker as medically inapt, hence the role of the OH department is to intervene?

    What do you actually do in the case of a worker clearly under the influence? Who has established policies in place regarding alcohol at work?
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    About DavidFR

    Joined: Jan '04; Posts: 242; Likes: 214
    Nurse; from FR
    Specialty: 30 year(s) of experience in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health


  3. by   XB9S
    I'm not an OH nurse but as a nurse manager am aware of the procedures. We have a policy for dealing with drugs and alcohol influence in the workplace, any staff member who is felt to be under the influence is automatically sent to OH. If they refuse then this is dealt with under a disciplinary policy and investigated. It may or may not lead to dismissal dependant on if they accept they may need help.

    OH then have guidance and the staff member is given strict conditions to adhere to in order to avoid disciplinary action.

    We also use sick leave and annual leave to help support a staff member who may have a problem cope and deal with the conditions
  4. by   SaderNurse05
    If an employee meets the requirements of "reasonable suspicion" they are brought to EHS. We do a drug sceen and a breath ETOH. If they refuse they are put on admin leave and terminated ASAP. If they show any substance abuse, same thing. If they contact us and ask for help with an addiction, we find a program that suits their needs and as long as they comply with the program and pass random screenings for one year they keep their jobs. Hope this helps.
  5. by   Goodrich
    Since our workplace has a drug program and I also coordinate that and some of our positions are FAA/DOT regulated, this does fall under my title of Health and Safety Specialist (I am an RN also).

    To me this is a safety issue and effects the health of both the employee is is drinking and those around him/her
  6. by   Neats
    As a Health Care Administrator my first responsibility is safety of the unit and I need to get that nurse off the unit. If a nurse is suspected of being under the influence of anything I suspend with pay until an investigation can be completed. This can include having the staff member in question be escorted to the hospital for a drug/ETOH screen. If it goes this far and the employee is under the influence the employee usually quits. I always refer the employee to the employee assistance program as well. I then must contact the state board of nursing if they are under the influence, I allow the nurse to contact first, better chance of nurse not losing their license.
    Remember anytime a supervisor/manager becomes aware of an issue such as this it becomes their responsibilty to do something about it or they are not doing their job.

    Substance abuse falls under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) so if you have employees that are challenged by these issues and they are willing to improve we must allow for this. Employees should be given the tools to change and time as long as it does not hurt the unit. Its when they make the same mistakes over and over again that you need to worry.
    Last edit by Neats on Sep 11, '08 : Reason: Addition Information
  7. by   ownadobe
    Where I am at (industral facility), if there is reasonable suspicion that someone is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, the person is taken to medical to be tested. Human resources is present for the testing as well as the supervisor. OH performs the test on site be it BAT or urinalysis. The OH nurses are certified to completed the test. If the test shows any alcohol or there is a non-negative urine it is then sent for confirmation testing. The employee is placed off work without pay until a full investigation is completed. The employee is offered treatment and if/when the employee does return to work, they are subject ot random testing for the next year. This again is completed the the OHN.

    hope this helps.
  8. by   mooreluvn07
    Hi. I am new to I am in a similar situation to this thread. I went to lunch with several coworkers and three of us consumed one alcoholic beverage each. We all know that this was extremely poor judgement on our parts. We had all clocked out prior to leaving for lunch as it was going to be a couple of hours until our next case would be done. We were off the premises when the one alcoholic beverage was consumed followed by a full meal and water or soda. We clocked back into work in an hour. Upon clocking in, we sat and waited for another hour and a half or so for the surgeon to come. We were reported by a couple of students who had shown up at the restaurant and were called in two days later and immediately fired without a drug test. There were not any complaints against us from the surgeons or our coworkers that we were intoxicated as truly, we weren't and would not have tested positive. I do know we were wrong and should be punished, but do you feel we should have been fired immediately. Also, we were instructed to self-report to the BON prior to our Assistant Administrator contacting the BON the following day. Do you feel like this should have reported to the BON for intoxication on the job?
  9. by   Neats
    As a Health Care Administrator and BSN (new) I can safely say the positions we hold... we all must be above reproach while we are conducting business throughout our shifts.

    As someone who would be afraid to see a member of the medical staff drinking at lunch then go to my medical appointment a few hours later and see the same person/people try to assist me with my medical needs. I would not want to have these people touch me or my family members. I really do not care how much time has passed in my mind it is the same day.

    From a human resource stand point and you may disagree with what I am about to say but you came back to work after lunch and clocked in. In principle you could have had a BAT test after you clocked in and been under the influence (does not matter how much). What if there was a medical emergency? I know you focused upon the time that passed but again emergencies arise what would have been your explanation then?

    Depending upon the policies of your employer and state regulation the HR and your direct supervisor could be correct. I would review the policies if you feel you are in compliance and any supporting documentation to verify your case.

    Face it we in the medical arena that hold licenses are held to a higher standard.

    I am sorry this happened to you and Thank You for writing this so others may learn about this issue.

    As for reporting we are mandated reporters and I must report the occourance to the BON, the assistant administrator was trying to assist you by allowing you to report first.
    Last edit by Neats on Feb 14, '09 : Reason: Addition
  10. by   marryweather
    When we have employees found to be working under the influence it is handled by the companies hr department however I stress to the hr department that the employee is not fit to drive and that there could be legal ramifications if the employee is involved in an accident on the way home. Usually they make the employee call a friend or family member to come pick them up or a cab if there is no one else available.
  11. by   EwwThat'sNasty
    Danger Will Robinson....danger.

    As Robert Frost said: "Good fences make good neighbors," so to do good policies make happy Occ Med RN's.

    Policy and Procedure is quite varied, sometimes governed by other agencies such as DOT. If you don't have a good policy in place consider trying to make one but do it as a group, HR, employee reps/union, company MD, etc.

    Make it impartial and stick to it.

    A funny story: Once I was called into the boss's office. I thought I was going to be told that I was doing a good job. Boss said: "You were reported as having a bottle of partially consumed wine in the company fridge." "Ya," I responded thinking "so what." "Well what were you doing bringing wine to work?" I said: "yesterday was my birthday and my girlfriend gave me a bottle of good wine and made strawberry shortcake. I drank a glass corked it and put both in my car and drove to work. Realizing that both would spoil I put them into the fridge."

    It had never even crossed this country bumkin's mind that having alcohol on premise was against company rules, after all it was in the fridge and corked. I was told never to do it again and never did. End of story. I mean it was a great Chianti, if it were Boone's farm rotgut I might understand...

    Funny, in France people would drink at lunch and return to work with impunity, but here no,