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Rules for addiction at the workplace

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention has an important role in health management at the TU. The main focuses are information/clarification and counselling/help in specific cases. Behaviour-oriented measures are not to be separated from relationship-oriented measures (concrete working conditions) as shown in the chart: (source: graph: Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen e.V,  DHS.)



For employees, this applies:

After the accident prevention regulations (Unfallverhütungsvorschrift (Grundsätze der Prävention, § 15 Abs. 2 und 3, BGV A1)), the insured, through the consumption of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances, are not allowed to put themselves in a state where they can bring harm to themselves or other people. This also applies for medication intake.

Those working under the influence of alcohol and medication:

  • can lose the right to receive payment in the form of wages or salaries if they are involved in an accident
  • may be held liable for injury or damage

Apart from these financial disadvantages, employees may receive additional fines or even imprisonment such as conviction for drunk driving, assault, etc. Employees can be held criminally responsible if they leave intoxicated employees in emergency situations (for example, if they don’t prevent those who are intoxicated from driving).

Fiduciary duty of the supervisor:

Supervisors are responsible because of their general duty of care and relevant labour protection legislation and social security regulations for compliance with the requirements for occupational health and safety.

They can:

  • be held reliable if they allow working while under the influence,
  • be tasked with monitoring employees working at the facilities
  • have a duty of care towards the employees
  • are responsible for the safety of the employees
  • have the legal responsibilities for accidents caused by influence of alcohol

Supervisors must ensure that employees who are under alcohol or drugs influence, not work and not keep their jobs, that is, they must intervene immediately if they notice the work under alcohol or drugs influence.

In addition, they are responsible for the safety of the employees concerned. Therefore, appropriate supervisory measures need to be taken. It is not enough to just escort the employees who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs off the premises or to send them home; Supervisors have to accompany them themselves or be accompanied by a representative home.

Determining blood alcohol level:

An identified drunk driver is refrained from the use of his/her vehicle (also includes bicycles). This applies not only during working hours, but also after work.

He/she is held accountable for all the incurred costs, such as telephone, taxi, accompanying person, etc.

Breath or blood test measuring instruments (doctor) may only be done with the consent of the person concerned. In most cases, the decision may only be based on evidences, such as witnesses. The manager has to decide whether the employee is still able to perform his/her duties solely based on his observations and experiences.

After removal of employee from the workplace, the person concerned must not be left on their own. Depending on the degree of intoxication, those responsible must ensure that medical care, supervised accommodation in operation or a safe way home is given. The person concerned has to bear any costs to the employer for the accompanying person.

The literature and the views on this subject are very diverse, extensive and not listed here completely.

The employers are also, in terms of addiction, obliged to care for the life and health of their employees.