Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Time to Tackle the Death and Injury Toll Due to Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Employers have a Responsibility for Drivers and Logistics Workers
Shipping News Feature

UK – We have often written over the years with regard to the installation of alcohol interlocks, 'alcolocks', devices which ensure a driver cannot start the engine of a vehicle if his or her breath indicates alcohol has been consumed.

Regrettably, despite the passage of time, neither administrators nor vehicle manufacturers have made any significant progress in rolling out the technology in a bid to make the roads safer. Now in the wake of the pandemic, changes in behaviour are having an effect on the statistics and new procedures and testing methods are being called for.

Public Health England says the cost of alcohol misuse to the economy is £7 billion annually in lost productivity through unemployment and sickness. The charity Alcohol Change UK reports that 40% of employers mention alcohol as a significant cause of low productivity.

Meanwhile there are no legal requirements for employers to ensure their staff are free from alcohol or drugs, leaving the potential for horrific consequences should an HGV be involved in one of the many accidents which are a direct result of these.

Prosecutions of employers and fleet managers can be held liable if they knowingly allow such behaviour, but these are almost always after the event, too late to prevent the tragedy which preceded. Approximately 85,000 people are convicted of drink driving related offences each year in England and Wales, with 3,551 seriously injured or killed as a result according YouGov statistics released in July.

That YouGov poll shows that up to 20% of UK adults may be drinking more after three pandemic lockdowns and this is having significant behavioural effects, including on staff working whilst affected, with almost 30% more than previously saying this was now the case.

Alongside the haulage sector the changes prompted by Covid 19 also affect the logistics profession generally. Now together with the already freely available alcolocks there are products such as the Lifeloc Sentinel, which requires no mouthpiece and can be fitted to unsupervised turnstiles, electric gates, and other barrier systems, preventing anyone impaired by alcohol from entering a factory or manufacturing worksite.

The Lifeloc Sentinel is produced by West Sussex based AlcoDigital which also offers a range of products as well as information on setting up a testing programme with the intention of avoiding not only prosecution but potentially serious injury and even death to innocent parties. The company has produced a video to explain the situation.