Alcohol and Drugs

This chapter provides guidance in relation
to drugs and alcohol use, and is primarily
based on New Zealand legislation and guidance issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

It will help you determine the best way to manage drugs, including medication, and alcohol to ensure the safety of all workers.

Who needs to read this?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires all PCBUs to identify drug and alcohol use as a hazard, and therefore eliminate or minimise the risk.

All workers on a production (pre, during and post) should read and understand the section on ‘minimum responsibilities’.

Roles that have specific responsibilities, or influence, over workers should read the section on ‘planning and guidance considerations and responsibilities’ – this includes producers, directors, production managers, line producers, heads of departments, assistant directors and health and safety officer.

What we need to know about alcohol and drugs

The use of drugs and alcohol, even if consumed outside work hours, can lead to poor concentration, carelessness, fatigue, risk-taking behaviour, and errors in judgement. Misuse of drugs and alcohol not only affects work performance, but also results in higher rates of injuries, fatalities, and absenteeism.

  • Alcohol includes any substance or beverage that contains ethyl alcohol including, but not limited to, beer, wine, pre-mix drinks and other spirits
  • Drug – a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.

Safety sensitive tasks

Safety-sensitive tasks are ones where impaired performance, for whatever reason, could affect the safety worker or others around. While misuse of drugs or alcohol is a risk in any situation, the risk is heightened during safety-sensitive tasks.

For example, working on a film set is safety sensitive because of the inherent risk. Other safety-sensitive roles include, but are not limited to:

  • driving – at all times – not only when shuttling participants;
  • construction;
  • electrical work;
  • rigging;
  • tasks working at height;
  • operating machinery and tools
  • emergency response roles, which may include all staff in an operation.

Minimum responsibilities – everyone!

All workers should:

  • report any personal medical situations that the producer should be aware of;
  • advise the producer, their supervisor or the health and safety officer if other workers appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol which may impede their own or the safety of others;
  • advise the producer, their supervisor or the health and safety officer if other workers speak about taking drugs or alcohol in a situation that may put others at risk;
  • understand the risks associated with taking drugs (prescribed or otherwise) and alcohol;
  • understand that some prescription and over-the-counter medication can lead to drowsiness;
  • follow all procedures and controls put in place to keep themselves and others safe when working in noisy environments;
  • understand the taking recreational drugs and alcohol outside of work can affect their ability to function safely and put others at risk, and be aware that drugs and alcohol can stay in their system for some time; and
  • not turn up to work still under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

 

The use of drugs and alcohol, even if consumed outside work hours, can lead to poor concentration, carelessness, fatigue, risk-taking behaviour, and errors in judgement.

Planning and guidance considerations and responsibilities

Anyone who is responsible for, or has influence over, workers should read and understand this section, as well as the minimum responsibilities for everyone.

This includes the production company, producers, directors, line producers, heads of departments, assistant directors and health and safety officers.

Drug and alcohol policy

The policy should:

  • ensure workers understand your expectations – for example a drug and alcohol-free work environment;
  • be developed with good faith in mind;
  • outline any proposed monitoring;
  • outline how you will respond to misuse of drugs or alcohol, in the short-term (immediate safety risk) and longer term (future expectations)
    • this may vary depending on whether the worker:
    • shows signs of misuse of drugs or alcohol;
    • has been involved in a workplace safety incident;
    • is convicted of a drugs or alcohol offence – for example what is the policy if someone is convicted of drink driving.
    • Drug and alcohol testing4

CONTRACTS / WORK AGREEMENTS

If the production company decide that drug and/or alcohol testing is appropriate for the production, it is advised that a clause on testing is included in work agreements / contracts; this clarifies that workers consent to drug and alcohol testing.

If the production company chooses to include a clause on drug testing in its work agreements or contracts, if so this should be outlined in the policy.

Drug testing could occur:

  • pre-contract;
  • if there is a reasonable cause to believe someone may be under the influence; or
  • post-safety incident

REASONABLE CAUSE

The production company or person in charge may require a worker to be tested if there is reasonable cause or reasonable grounds for suspecting they’re impaired while at work. This includes factors such as the worker being:

  • involved in a workplace accident or near miss – for example a lapse of concentration when driving;
  • unreliable – for example being absent or late regularly, or an inability to remember instructions;
  • performing poorly – for example poor judgement and decision making, reduced reaction times and efficiency, or increased error rates.

Before deciding to test, you should allow the worker to comment on the concerns. It may reduce any question of bias if more than one person makes a decision to require a post-incident test. Your safety management plan should state who will make the decision.

FATIGUE

Sometimes, signs of drugs and alcohol misuse are signs of general fatigue. Even if you accept that in a particular case fatigue is the cause of poor performance and testing isn’t appropriate, it’s still important to stand down the worker from safetysensitive tasks.

POST-INCIDENT TESTING

Post-incident testing is a standard procedure is becoming more common. However, it is important to remember that following an incident there may be higher priorities than testing for example first aid, trauma management, and evacuation.

If the police are involved, they may test at the scene. In other situations, the production company or person in charge must decide what is an appropriate time after the incident to test. In making this decision you should consider the length of time alcohol and drugs are present in a person’s system. See the “what to test for” table for more information.

RANDOM TESTING

Random testing should only be conducted when staff are working in safetysensitive roles. The privacy rights of staff will outweigh an employer’s wish to be consistent across all staff and random test any staff member irrespective of staff members’ work roles.

WHAT TO TEST FOR

DRUGS CAN STAY IN THE SYSTEM FOR:
Amphetamines Methamphetamine Ecstasy 6 days
Cocaine / Opiates (including codeine) 2–5 days
Benzodiazepines 2–14 days
Cannabis 2–30 days
Alcohol 2–48 hours, depending on
metabolism and amount taken.

Production company

The production company (likely to have primary responsibility over health and safety on the production) should develop a drug and alcohol policy.

The production company should:

  • ensure workers affected by drug or alcohol use are managed according to the drug and alcohol policy;
  • ensure workers presumed, or known, to be impaired by drug or alcohol use are treated fairly; and
  • respect a worker’s right to privacy when/ if they inform the production company of use of prescribed or over-the-counter medication.

Person in charge

Anyone who is responsible for, or has influence over, workers is a person in charge and should read this entire chapter. This includes the production company, producers, directors, line producers, heads of departments, assistant directors and health and safety officers.

If it is suspected that a worker is misusing drugs or alcohol, it is recommended, as a first step, that the appropriate person in charge (this may be the head of the department, producer or health and safety officer) and the worker talk about the problem to try to resolve the issue.

If a worker is caught misusing drugs or alcohol, the production’s response should be clearly outlined in the drug and alcohol policy, and followed by the person in charge – this may include testing.

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