SUBSTANCE ABUSE A COSTLY FORCE ON THE JOB
RCMP Initiates Efforts To Try To Stem The Dangerous Tide Of Effects Of Drugs And Alcohol In Alberta Workplaces
For Cochrane Times -- Substance abuse in the workplace is such a problem in Alberta that the RCMP has teamed up with industry to try and do something about it.
The inaugural annual general meeting of the Drug and Alcohol Council for Safe Alberta Workplaces ( DACSAW ) took place June 7 in Edmonton, with representatives from such industries as oil and gas, construction and maintenance joining those from government, police and the community to address the issue which is costing everyone in productivity and, in extreme cases, life.
"It went very well," said Staff Sergeant Ian Sanderson, of RCMP "K" Division's drugs and organized crime awareness service. "We had about 100 in attendance, we were quite pleased with that."
Now that it's an official entity, Sanderson said the goal of DACSAW is simple.
"We formed to raise the capacity to do awareness and education to address the industry's needs around substance abuse in the workplace," she added.
The first task of the council is to provide educational programs to its members focused on drug and alcohol use and how it affects the safety of workplaces, under the lead of a board of directors.
"Collaboration is better than any one entity doing it itself," Sanderson said.
The organization got its start in 2003 as a partnership between RCMP, Alberta Building Trades Council and Construction Labour Relations Alberta.
DACSAW is the result of that early partnership and, although only becoming official June 7, has been offering education already in the form of Action Alberta -- a two-day biannual conference on workplace substance abuse first offered in 2005.
Sanderson said the focus of the industry-driven council is not on any one drug, but on any and all substances which affect an employee's performance and may increase the risk of injury on the job.
"It doesn't matter what the drug is," he said. "We are looking at it from an addiction point-of-view."
The board plans to meet once per month to work on a strategic three- to five-year plan for education and training.
Recent provincial media advertisements have been aimed at educating Albertans about injury prevention both on and off the job -- and not necessarily involving substance abuse -- since the human and financial costs related to preventable injury is high.
According to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, the financial cost of both intentional and unintentional injuries, on and off the job, is $1.8 billion or $662 per Albertan and the average cost of each injury is $4,744 in direct and in-direct costs.
In Alberta in 2001, there were 27,154 hospital admissions due to injury, with falls having the highest number of admissions at 40.4 per cent.
Cochrane Times (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Cochrane Times