“Workplace cheer is risky business”

Donegal employers should ensure alcohol consumption at the workplace Christmas party doesn’t come at the expense of employee safety, says #Build17 health and safety expert Darren Donaghy.

The Donegal-based health and safety professional from Donaghy Safety Training has appealed to employers to ensure that the correct precautions are taken before up and coming parties, drinks receptions and company dinners.

“Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, an employer has relevant duties to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of all employees in their workplace. This includes managing and conducting work activities which prevent improper conduct or behaviour likely to put employees at risk,” says Mr Donaghy.

The local safety expert explained: “The festive ramifications of intoxicated and hungover employees stretch beyond poor performance and reduced productivity, as intoxication after a big Christmas night out can pose a real threat to workplace safety whether on a building site or in an office.

“For example, for those operating heavy machinery or caring for minors or the vulnerable, employers should set out clear post-party expectations which mitigate the safety risks of employees coming into work hungover.”

Mr Donaghy, one of the experts involved in the #Build17 expo which will hosted by Watson Hire in Letterkenny on February 18, adds: “Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to their employees and should forewarn them that disciplinary action will be taken in the event of turning up to work under the influence of alcohol, or as a result of alcoholic over-indulgence at the Christmas party.”

Although a festive work get together is all about celebrating the year’s achievements and rewarding staff for their contributions in a fun environment, companies can ensure their parties are headache free by briefing employees and illustrating their post-party expectations well in advance.

Mr Donaghy adds: “No employee should be under the influence of an intoxicant or suffering from alcohol related over indulgence, which could endanger his or her own safety or that of any other person present.

“From a health and safety perspective, you need to be confident that your employees are not a risk to themselves or others and if you perceive that there is a safety threat you should act and remove the employee from the risk immediately.