EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Latvia: EWCO CAR on Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace

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  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Law and regulation,
  • Work organisation,
  • Working conditions,
  • Published on: 03 May 2012



About
Country:
Latvia
Author:
Raita Karnite
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

Alcohol/drug use is recognised as a problem, regularly investigated and monitored. In 2008, two extra surveys related to impact of alcohol/drugs use in working environment were conducted. Prevention measures include strict Labour Law regulation regarding use of alcohol at work that allows to fire employee who is detected at workplace in alcohol/drug giddiness. The procedure of termination of employment contract in case of alcohol/drug use at work, as well as procedure of alcohol/drug testing is strictly regulated.The Government has established National alcohol use elimination council. Second alcohol prevention program is forthcoming. Occasional use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace is treated within the general approach.

QUESTIONNAIRE

Block 1: Main sources of information dealing with the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace at national level and its relation with working conditions, etc.

1.1 Are there national statistical sources (surveys, administrative registers including company reports as surveys / reports from the Labour Inspectorate, Labour doctors, etc) that provide information on the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace in your country? If so, identify them and explain their characteristics and methodology. Please refer both to general population health surveys/sources or general alcohol/drug use surveys/sources as to working conditions or workplace specific surveys/sources

  • Name of the statistical source

  • Scope

  • Goals

  • Methodology

  • Periodicity

None of statistical sources provide information specifically on the issue of occasional alcohol/drug use at the workplace. Several sources provide general statistical information on alcohol/drugs use and consequences of this.

The State Labour Inspectorate (Valsts Darba inspekcija, VDI) - Annual Report.

  • Statistics on accidents at work by reasons: item Work upon alcohol giddiness, does not distinguish use of alcohol by place.

  • Describe causes of accidents at work.

  • Shows number of reported cases, when a worker has lost ability to work for a period longer than twenty four hours due to accident.

  • Annual.

The Centre of Health Economics (Veselības ekonomikas centrs, VEC): Register of patients, including Register of narcological patients and those who use dependency creating substances.

  • Detailed data on patients of 9 diseases by regions, diagnoses, gender, age, does not distinguish cases at the workplace and occasional use.

  • State statistical information program.

  • Collects data from health care institutions on the basis of statistical forms set forth in the Regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers no. 746 of 15 September 2008.

  • Online update, annual summary.

VEC: state statistical survey Mental and behaviour disturbances due to use of psychoactive substances (based on Regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers Nr. 10 of 6 January 2009).

  • Detailed division of patients by diseases, including items: Acute intoxication and harming excessive use of alcohol and Intoxication of psychoactive substances and harming excessive use of such substances (total and by substances), in division by gender and status, does not distinguish cases at the workplace and occasional use.

  • Implementation of the state statistical information program.

  • Internationally comparable methodology.

  • Annual.

The Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (Latvijas Republikas Centrālā statistikas pārvalde, CSP) – Statistical Yearbook of relevant years and online database.

  • Health care statistics – tables: Reported cases of alcoholism and dependency upon psychoactive substances in dynamics per 100 thsd. population; Negative effects of alcohol abuse in dynamics per 100 thsd. population; Deaths caused by alcohol in dynamics. Does not distinguish cases at the workplace and occasional use.

  • Statistical characteristic of alcohol abuse.

  • Include cases diagnosed in health institutions, excluding patients undergoing treatment in private health institutions which do not have contractual relations with the Health Payment Center (Veselības norēķinu centrs, VNC).

  • Annual.

1.2. Are there any other sources of information (published after mid-2000s) that may provide valuable information on the issue (i.e. ad-hoc studies, sectoral studies, administrative reports, articles, published case studies, etc). If so, identify and describe them.

Two studies, both conducted by the Population Health agency of the Ministry of Healthcare (currently incorporated into VEC) investigate impact of alcohol use (regular and occasional) in working environment:

Impact of alcohol use on accidents in working environment and road accidents (Alkohola lietošanas ietekme uz nelaimes gadījumiem darba vidēs un ceļu satiksmes negadījumiem), Riga 2008. Prepared by the Institute of Sociological Research (Socioloģisko pētījumu institūts, SPI), supervisor Ilze Koroļeva, in Latvian. Referred as Study 1.

Purpose of the study – to obtain information on traffic accidents and accidents at work because of use of alcohol. Identifies cases of accidents and use of alcohol among employees in particular sectors. Includes employers’ quantitative survey (n=400) and experts’ interviews (n=15).

Prevalence of alcohol use and elimination of consequences of alcohol use in working environment in different sectors of economy (Alkohola izplatība un alkohola lietošanas seku mazināšanas iespējas darba vidē dažādās tautsaimniecības nozarēs), Riga, 2008. Prepared by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia (Latvijas Universitātes Filozofijas un socioloģijas institūts, LUFSI), supervisor Ritma Rungule, in Latvian. Referred as Study 2.

The study investigates use of alcohol at work in sectors: agriculture, forestry and fishing, industry; electricity, gas and water supply; construction; transport, communication; state governance and related services. Mutually complementing qualitative and quantitative methods are used:

  • 10 express interviews with experts from fields: employment and health care, sector associations, trade unions, work safety and work protection;

  • employers survey (net n=500);

  • two discussions in focus groups with employers in Riga and Kuldīga (town in West Latvia)

Other listed studies investigate alcohol/drug use in general.

Prevalence of use of substances creating dependency among population (Atkarību izraisošo vielu lietošanas izplatība iedzīvotāju vidū). Ordered by VEC, prepared by SPI, in Latvian. Quantitative survey of 15-64 years old Latvia’s population (n=4500) done once in four years (2003, 2008, and forthcoming).

Research on habits influencing health of Latvian population (Latvijas iedzīvotāju veselību ietekmējošo paradumu pētījums). Conducted by VEC, 2008, in Latvian. Quantitative survey of 15-64 years old Latvia’s population (n=4500) done once in four years (2003, 2008, and forthcoming).

VEC executes functions of the national coordinator and national reference center with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), and operates the state intersector monitoring system on use of alcohol/tobacco and population mental health. Several studies are published within this program regarding general issues of alcohol use.

Block 2: Information on the extent of the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace in your country, as well as the type of situations (sectors, occupations, working conditions, etc.) in which this use occurs, its consequences (production process, social relations at work) and the rationale behind it

2.1. Please provide the available data and information on the prevalence of drug/alcohol use at the workplace in your country, if possible differentiating data by:

  • Type of substance

  • Sectors => specific focus on the construction and transport sectors

  • Occupational profiles

  • Other relevant variables

Specifically on prevalence of occasional use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace statistical data is not available. Information in this section is chiefly based on two studies: Impact of alcohol use on accidents in working environment and road accidents ( Study 1) and Prevalence of alcohol use and elimination of consequences of alcohol use in working environment in different sectors of economy (Study 2). Except some, provided data is related to the situation when employee, being at work, is affected by alcohol/drug use – regardless, was it used at workplace or not, currently or a day before.

In compliance with Euro barometer survey published in Guidelines on population health, 2011 - 2017, in 2009, comparatively small number of Latvia’s population use alcohol every day (2%), yet 33% use alcohol 2–3 times per month.

Intertwined experts in Study 2 shared views on estimation of seriousness of alcohol/drug use at workplace, Employers supported view that official figures related to this problem are modest, and other business issues are more important. Population health and work protection specialists, as well as authors of both reports marked, that the problem is important.

In Study 1, employers said that use of alcohol at work or a day before work is often phenomenon. They could not recall cases when workers have used drugs at work or a day before. Study 2 reveals that drugs are used at work, but employers do not have sufficient skills to detect and to prove such cases.

Study 2, on the basis of employers’ survey, gives some data on occasional use of alcohol at workplace besides official collective celebrations. 12% of enterprises in agriculture, forestry and fishery reported that such cases occurred very often, and 20% said that rather often. The figures are remarkable less in other sectors - 1% and 7% in industry, 0% and 3% in construction, 1% and 2% in transport and none in state management. Depending on sector, 24 – 34% of enterprises said that such situations occurred, and 33 – 67% of all enterprises said that never occurred.

Excessive use of alcohol at workplace is even less frequent. None of respondents in sectors reported that such cases occurred very often. 1% of enterprises in agriculture, forestry and fishery reported that such cases occurred rather often, the relevant figure is 2% in industry, 1% in construction, 3% in transport and none in state management. Depending on sector, 7 - 17% of enterprises said that such situations occurred, and 74 – 89% of all enterprises said that never occurred (Study 2).

Outside Riga, alcohol is more often used at workplace and in risky way (Study 2).

Both studies show that employers take relevant care so that workers who have used alcohol/drugs are not allowed to work.

According with VEC data on registered patients, there were 1082 patients with diagnosis: Acute alcohol intoxication and harming use in end of 2009, of which only 44% were persons older than 17 years old. The relevant figures were 1318 persons and 65% in end of 2010. 1445 persons were on register with diagnosis: Acute intoxication of psychoactive substances, of which 82% are older than 17 years old in end of 2009. The relevant figures were 1305 persons and 84% in end of 2010.

Type of substance

Data in Guidelines on population health, 2011 – 2017 characterise general situation. Of total consumption of alcohol drinks 41.9% is beer (63.6 litres per population), followed by strong alcoholic drinks (vodka, products from vodka and liquor, whisky, rum, gin) (35.7%, 5.9 litres per population). Consumption of wines, champagne and sparkling vines constitutes 11.6% of total (5.1 litres per population).

According to VEC statistical database the most popular is combined use of psychoactive substances, but also cannabis, amphetamine, opioids and similar, and volatile organic solvents is mentioned among often used substances.

Sectors

Both studies reveal that regarding alcohol/drug use in working environment the most problematic sectors are agriculture, forestry and fishing, industry, construction and transport.

Study 2 reports that 67% of respondents – employers in agriculture, forestry and fishing supported statement, that excessive use of alcohol among employees was important problem in enterprise and imperilled its operation. Relevant figures in other sectors are: 50% in manufacturing, 48% in transport, 46% in construction and just 25% in public management and related activities.

Occupational profiles

Studies do not distinguish alcohol use by occupational profiles. According to the health care experts, use of alcohol at work is typical for illegal workers, because official workers are strongly controlled and they may loose job. Illegal workers are most often detected at simple jobs (Study 1).

Other relevant variables

Around twice less enterprises in Riga than in regions supported statement, that excessive use of alcohol among employees was important problem in enterprise and imperilled its operation (36% in Riga versus 53 – 59% outside Riga) (Study 2).

The impact is more serious in enterprises with less than 20 workers. 45% of such enterprises said that the impact is essential or important, while 24% of enterprises did not feel any impact. 19% of small enterprises reported risky alcohol use among employees as essential or one of most important problems (Study 2).

Respondents’ answers in the survey reveal that use of alcohol at workplace is more often connected with use of poor quality strong alcoholic drinks during working time or a day before.

2.2. Please provide data and information on the rationale and consequences of drug/alcohol use at work. Focus on construction, transport:

Reasons for consuming alcohol/drugs

  • Use of drugs related to certain working conditions (e.g. alcohol when working in cold / warm environments; stimulants when working at high rhythm, etc…)

  • Accessibility/availability

Consequences of consuming alcohol/drugs

  • working conditions affected by drug use (risk increase, accidents, absenteeism, sick leave…):

  • Accidents and fatalities due to alcohol/drug use

  • Sick leaves attributed to alcohol/drugs, absenteeism

  • Assessment of costs

  • Use of alcohol/drugs negatively affecting other working conditions:

  • Uneven workload distribution…

  • Work organisation

  • working environment (deteriorated social relations at work, higher number of conflicts…)

Reasons for consuming alcohol/drugs

Use of alcohol/drugs related to certain working conditions

Reviewed experts have mentioned several reasons of use of alcohol:

  • historical – tradition to use strong drinks has arrived with Russian emigrants,

  • poor economic situation,

  • employment problems – lack of appropriate workplaces, insufficient pay,

  • impact of working environment and social relations,

  • unexpected brakes at work, such as long waiting time on borders etc.

  • stress at work, intensive work regime, overwork,

  • employer’s reaction on use of alcohol and manager’s position (supportive, loyal or preventive),

  • reaction of colleagues and partners at work,

  • general environment factors, such as company social policy, state policy in promotion of healthy lifestyle, alternatives for spending of free time, positive impact of advertisement)

Reasons for drug use were not discussed.

Accessibility/availability

Employers recognise that workers are more affected from use of alcohol after holidays, or celebrations, in summer when workers use beer at workplace.

Accessibility/availability at workplace may be regulated by enterprises internal rules. Examples of preventive measures are (Study 2): supervision of internal environment, avoiding public celebrations with use of alcohols, regular health checking at enterprise, moral assistance, and informative measures regarding damage caused by use of alcohol at work.

As described in article in the Latvijas Vēstnesis (Latvijas Vēstnesis, LV), examples are demonstrated when it is strongly prohibited to take alcohol in place of work (construction field, garage, and workshop).

Consequences of consuming alcohol/drugs

General note

In 33% of enterprises of agriculture, forestry and fishing sector alcohol use causes negative impact and in 24% of enterprises it imperilled operation of enterprise. In construction, 50% of enterprises recognised that use of alcohol made serious impact, while 18% of enterprises did not feel it a problem. In transport, 30% of enterprises did not feel use of alcohol a problem; still in 22% of enterprises it imperilled operation of enterprise. Authors conclude that consequences of alcohol use in transport sector are more severe than evidenced in respondents’ answers.

In manufacturing, impact of alcohol use was less, and 56% of public management sector organisations reported that alcohol habits of their employees did not impact their work (Study 2).

Serious impact of alcohol habits of employees was reported more often in enterprises where employees communicate in Russian (29% - imperilled operation of enterprise, 18% - no impact), compared with enterprises where employees communicate in Latvian (14% - imperilled operation of enterprise, 30% - no impact) (Study 2).

Both surveys analyse impact of alcohol use on quality and productivity of work, safety at work.

Accidents and fatalities due to alcohol/drug use

Both studies give proof of close correlation between use of alcohol/drugs and accidents and fatalities, as well other aspects of work (safety at work, quality of work and productivity of work).

In agriculture, forestry and fishing, 46% of enterprises indicated that use of alcohol impacted safety at work, 46% - productivity and 37% - quality of work. In transports sector, use of alcohol seriously impacted safety at work in 32% enterprises, rather seriously in 13%. In 39% of transports enterprises use of alcohol impacted productivity of work, and in 34% of enterprises – quality of work. In construction, use of alcohol impacted safety at work (in 42% of enterprises) and productivity of work (32%). In manufacturing, 36% of enterprises reported serious or important impact of use of alcohol on safety at work (Study 2).

More impact was found in enterprises with less than 20 employees. In 43% of such enterprises use of alcohol impacted seriously or significantly safety at work, and in 35% - quality of work (Study 2).

More than 80% of enterprises representing construction, industry, agriculture, forestry and transport sector recognised that use of alcohol might increase risk of traumatism in their enterprises (Study 2).

Statistical data of VDI reveal that number of accidents at work because of use of alcohol is not crucial, and it decreases (Table 1).

Table 1. Number of accident at work by relevant sections
 

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Accidents at work, total

1902

2062

2174

2139

1407

1397

Of which serious

391

412

414

420

258

240

fatal

85

78

81

68

47

40

Of total, due to unsteady action

1281

1410

1512

1496

985

960

Of which serious

217

216

221

216

148

137

fatal

43

38

31

25

19

14

Of which due to work in condition of alcohol giddiness

43

30

17

28

10

15

Of which serious

22

13

7

12

6

6

fatal

10

5

3

5

2

1

Source: State Labour inspectorate, Annual report, 2010

Specialists of population health and safety at work mention that alcohol use is the third biggest cause of death. Annually 300 – 500 people die because of alcohol abuse. According with CSP data of all causes related to alcohol abuse, incidental poisoning by alcohol takes the biggest share since 2002.

Authors of the Study 1 are convinced that VDI figures do not reflect full number of accidents at work, because employers do not to report less important cases. The estimated level on non-reported cases is about one third of the number of reported cases. The study reveals that during the pre-survey year in 19% of enterprises workers have suffered injuries due to accidents at work, yet just 5% of such enterprises recognises that any of these accidents was because of use of alcohol. Data on serious and fatal cases is precise.

Sick leaves attributed to alcohol/drugs, absenteeism

Data regarding sick leaves were not found.

It is known that during the last month before survey in 33% of enterprises in agriculture, forestry and fishing sector at least one worker was absent for a month or more due to use of alcohol, 20% - a week or more, 31% arrived at workplace in condition of alcohol giddiness, in 25% of enterprises a worker was not able to work due to use of alcohol. In other sector figures are less.

In construction, during the pre-survey year, in 17% of enterprises at least once somebody has not arrived for work due to use of alcohol. 14% construction enterprises have seen that an employer arrives at work in condition of alcohol giddiness. In transport the relevant figures are remarkable less. During the last pre-survey month total of all mentioned cases was reported in 10 – 13% of enterprises. (Study 2).

Some respondents mention that impact of alcohol use may be hidden in sick leaves.

Assessment of costs

Cost assessments were not found. It is known that employers use legal means to get rid of employees who regularly use alcohol/drugs in order to cut costs. During the pre-survey year, 50% of enterprises in industry, 45% in agriculture, forestry and fishing, 41% in construction 36% in transport, and 16% in state management sector have fired employees due to use of alcohol. Within one year, 20% of industry enterprises have fired several workers due to use of alcohol at workplace. (Study 2).

Study 2 reveals that costs caused by alcohol use in a way of damaged equipment are important in agriculture, forestry and fishing, especially in enterprises with less than 20 workers.

Uneven workload distribution…

Surveys did not include question, whether use of alcohol/drugs cause uneven workload distribution. Cases where people were not able to work because of use of alcohol/drugs and were forced to leave workforce were mentioned by respondents, but were tied to productivity lost due to non-produced goods and services and consequently impact of other workers’ income.

Work organisation

82% of enterprises in agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing recognise that work may be halted due to use of alcohol. Risks of equipment damage due to use of alcohol is high in transport sector (84% of answers) and agriculture. The risk, that work may be halted is larger in enterprises with less than 20 employees (Study 2).

Working environment

All sources reveal that colleagues do not support use of alcohol at workplace if this may impact their own working conditions and income. More loyal attitude to alcohol users was found in enterprises with less than 50 employees (Study 2).

In the state management and related enterprises the highest risks are creation of poor reputation and relations with clients and partners (in 80% of answers), as well as less productivity and damage to collective morality. Assessment of these risks was higher in Riga than in other territories (Study 2).

Available studies conclude that alcohol/drug use is closely connected with problems in employment, at the same time alcohol/drug use is important obstacle in order to be employed.

Block 3: Identify legislation and agreements at national level concerning alcohol/drugs use at the workplace, specifically those related to testing practices

3.1. Please identify and describe the main existing legislation and agreements concerning the prohibition/limitation of alcohol/drug use at work:

  • Is there any legislation or agreement specifically intended to prohibit or limit alcohol/drug use at work? Please describe:

  • Type of legislation / agreement (Government or parliament laws, agreements from social dialogue, from the Governments and social partners, from other organisations, etc.)

  • Contents, stipulations

  • Collectives affected

Legislation and agreements specifically intended to prohibit or limit alcohol/drug use at work

Labour law, adopted on 20 June 2001 contains norms preventing alcohol/drug use at work.

Article 58 Suspension from work envisages that an employer has the right to suspend an employee from work if the employee, when performing work or being present at the workplace, is under the influence of alcohol, narcotic or toxic substances, as well as in other cases when failure to suspend an employee from work may be detrimental to his or her safety or the health or safety of third parties, as well as to the substantiated interests of the employer or third parties.

Section 101 Notice of termination by an employer envisages that an employer has the right to give a written notice of termination of an employment contract in definite cases, including, when the employee, when performing work, is under the influence of alcohol, narcotic or toxic substances (Clause 4), or the employee has grossly violated labour protection regulations and has jeopardised the safety and health of other persons (Clause 5).

Section 103. Time period for a notice of termination by an employer sets forth the norm, that unless the collective agreement or the employment contract specifies a longer time period for a notice of termination, an employer may give a notice of termination of an employment contract, without delay – if the notice of termination of the employment contract is given in the cases specified in Section 101, Paragraph one, Clause 4 of Labour Law.

Labour protection law (adopted on 20 June 2001) also supports eligibility of strict attitude towards use of alcohol/drugs at workplace. Article 6 provides employer right to apply penalties if employee has violated work protection norms or employers’ requirements regarding safety at work.

Two laws together provide legislative basis for regulations in collective agreements and internal work organisation (Code of conduct) prohibiting alcohol/drug use at workplace.

Potential employee should be informed about specific requirements regarding use of alcohol/drugs in working environment before hiring. These requirements are included in individual employment contract or employee approves them by signing internal work organisation order (Code of Conduct).

Experts have evaluated existing legislation as “optimal” (Study 2)

Is there any sectoral legislation or agreement with the same purpose? Please focus on the construction and transport sectors

Legislation provides flexible general norms that allow freedom for sector specific adjustments. In transport, specific requirements are introduced for all those (regardless employed or not) who participate in all kinds of traffic.

3.2. Specific focus on legislation / agreements regarding testing practices intended to control the use of alcohol/drugs at work. Please consider questions such us:

  • how are the tests regulated (agreements / legislation or are there guidelines)?

  • what type/forms of tests – testing methods and for what type of substances?

  • who can ask for tests, on who's initiative are tests initiated? for what purpose/reasons?

  • is the consent of the person to be tested needed?

  • is pre-employment testing (before work contract signing) allowed? can tests be included as a clause in work contracts?

  • by whom are the tests undertaken? are tests limited to safety sensitive positions or specific sectors (transport, etc.) or are they overall?

  • when, at what moment can tests be undertaken?

  • What are the necessary established pre-conditions for proceeding for a test?

  • what are the conditions/rules/procedure under which tests can be undertaken? what is the role of the labour doctor and labour inspectorate in testing?

  • To whom will the results be communicated and under what reporting form/

  • who has access to the results of the tests?

  • what can be the consequences of positive results on the work contractual relation?

Regulation of testing

Tests are regulated by Regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers Nr. 394, adopted on 2 June 2008 on Alcohol, narcotic, psychotropic or toxic substances testing procedures (Alkohola, narkotisko, psihotropo vai toksisko vielu ietekmes pārbaudes kārtība), issued according with Article 60.1 of the Medical treatment law, part one, item 17 of the Article 12 of the Law on police and part five, article 25 of the State probation service law.

Regulation Nr. 394 replaces previous Regulation Nr 625, adopted on 23 August 2005. The difference between two is not significant.

Permission of testing at work is provided by Labour law through norms on collective agreement and employment contract. The Law permits parties to a collective agreement incorporate into agreement not specified issues related to employment legal relationships, as well as agreement on mutual rights and duties (Article 17). This way testing at work is mutually agreed and included into collective agreement and employment contract and made legal.

Type/forms of tests, testing methods and substances?

Regulation Nr. 394 regulates two testing methods:

  • alcohol tests in exhalations, by using mobile devices that correspond to norms set by the Cabinet of Ministers,

  • medical testing for unlimited scope of alcohol, drugs and psychotropic substances.

Medical testing is undertaken in exhalations and biological environment (blood, urine or saliva).

Testing methods are determined in Regulation.

Employers may also use mobile devices for alcohol tests in exhalations at workplace.

Initiators and purpose/reasons of tests

Tests by using mobile devices may be initiated by servants of the State Police (Valsts policija, VP), local government police, the State Border Guard (Valsts robežsardze, VR) or officials of the State Probation Service (Valsts Probācijas dienests, VPD). Regulation does not distinguish cases when mobile test may be used. These tests are used as a normal procedure in supervision of road traffic and accidents on road or at workplaces.

Medical tests are undertaken on the basis of written appointment issued by officials of law enforcement institutions (prosecutors office, court, VP, local government police), state and local government institutions, and head of commercial company or other organisation or a person mandated by her/him. Appointment should explain reason of medical test.

Test may also be undertaken on request of individual on the basis of application where she/he motivates the need for a test, and is able to present a document of personal identification.

Regular checking by mobile devices of employees may be undertaken at workplace if such testing is agreed in collective agreement, individual employment contract and/or internal working procedure regulations (Code of conduct).

Consent of the person to be tested

Oral consent of the person to be tested is needed for testing by mobile devices. If a person does not agree for a test, she/he may be taken to recognised testing laboratories.

For medical testing person’s consent is necessary, except when a person was transported to laboratory by officials of police of border guards after failed mobile checking.

Pre-employment testing, tests as a clause in work contracts

Labour law neither prescribes nor prohibits pre-employment testing (before work contract signing), however the law strictly insists on equal treatment and non-discriminatory approach in job interviews and employment contracts.

In order to include tests as a clause in work contracts, prohibition to use alcohol/drugs at workplace or to arrive at work in condition of alcohol/drug intoxication should be strictly set in the internal Code of conduct (usually added to employment contract).

Study 2 reveals that experts and employers share view that regular testing is stress making measure and should not be supported.

By whom are the tests undertaken, target positions and sectors

Tests of exhalation, by using mobile devices may be undertaken by servants of VP, local government police, state border guards’ service or servants of VPD.

Medical tests should be undertaken by health care specialists – certified narcologist or doctors in other profile in 31 recognised health care institutions who have obtained official certificate approving their skills to apply relevant investigation method. Recognised testing institutions are 30 hospitals and laboratory of Riga psychiatry and narcology centre (Rīgas psihiatrijas un narkoloģijas centrs, RPNC) listed in the Regulation Nr. 394.

Chemical toxicological expertise should be undertaken by certified court experts.

Tests at workplace may be overall, if this is company’s policy. Usually tests are limited to safety sensitive positions or specific sectors. For instance, river transport workers are regularly tested).

Time of testing

Tests may be undertaken at every moment, when employer or a person representing the state controlling institution (traffic police, border guard, official of VPD, official of VDI) detects a person being in alcohol/drug intoxication at work or in traffic.

Tests are paid services. A person pays if test is positive (a person has used alcohol/drugs), while employer pays if test is negative.

Tests are undertaken in case of road accidents or accidents at work if a person has been transported to hospital.

9-11 thousand tests are undertaken annually, of which slightly less than half are alcohol tests. The share of tested in total population aged over 15 years old is around 0.5% (Figure 1).

Figure1. Number of tests and share of tested in total population aged over 15 years old


Source: VEC, 2011

Established pre-conditions for proceeding for a test

When a person is detected in condition of alcohol/drug intoxication, an employer in presence of two witnesses should issue a statement on the fact that an employee is at work in condition of alcohol/drug intoxication, where employer describes evidence of giddiness.

An employee is obliged to give written explanation of the situation. If an employee rejects giving explanation, employer, in presence of two witnesses, should issue other statement, where she/he describes rejection.

Then employer may offer a person medical testing that should meet norms of Regulation Nr 394. Regulation provides templates for application to tests and testing results.

According with these norms, initiator of testing (official, employer or individual) should fill in application template provided in Regulations Nr. 394.

If a person does not agree on medical testing, employer in presence of at least two witnesses should issue a statement where the fact that testing was rejected should be fixed and several signs of giddiness should be described, such as smell, non-adequate speech, staggering step and other. Employees’ signature is not necessary attribute of this document. Described signs of giddiness as well as the fact that employee rejected test should be repeated in warning about termination of employment contract.

Rules and procedure of tests

Medical testing includes (Regulation Nr. 394):

  • identification of the fact on use of alcohol, drugs, psychotropic, toxic medicine substances by interviewing of a person to be tested,

  • identification of external evidence (including injuries), psychological and emotional condition, behaviour, speech, vegetative somatic condition and co-ordination of movements, smell of alcohol or other,

  • identification of use of alcohol, drugs, psychotropic or toxic medicine substances by estimating concentration of alcohol in exhalation and laboratory investigation in biologic environment.

The role of the labour doctor and labour inspectorate in testing is not specified.

Communicated of the results

Results of the mobile testing are presented in template provided in Regulation Nr. 394 and tested person should approve results by signature.

Results of medical testing are reported in template provided in Regulation Nr. 394.

The results describe 10 conditions distinguished by substance, combination of substances and level of impact – no impact, impact and giddiness. Impact of alcohol is recognised if the concentration of alcohol in blood exceeds 0.5 per mille or corresponding concentration in other biological environment. Results should be signed by tested person.

One copy of results statement is submitted to person who initiated test, other copy and all supplementing documents are stored in testing institution for five years. Tested person is informed orally, and may receive written copy on oral request.

Access to the results of the tests

Regulation does not provide norms on access to the results. Restricted use of results of medical testing is provided by the Medical treatment law and Personal data protection law.

Consequences of positive results on the work contractual relation

If a test is positive, and a person was found in condition of alcohol/drug giddiness, employer may terminate employment contract with no delay. It is not eligible action if impact of alcohol/drugs was found, but a person is not in alcohol/drugs giddiness. The level of giddiness is not important.

Block 4: Identify and describe national prevention programmes to combat the use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace, especially those based on agreements and cooperation of the social partners:

  • Organisation(s) responsible for these programmes

  • Drivers and motivations. Objectives

  • Target groups (sectors, specific occupations…)

  • Content and activities developed (campaigns for alcohol/drug free workplaces, information to workers, training, professional counselling and personal assistance, reintegration programmes…)

  • Tools (seminars, brochures, toolkits, guidelines, polls, tests…)

  • Inter-relation with other (health) programmes. Participation of health professionals

  • Are the prevention programmes integrated in the general working conditions/OSH training programmes and management systems?

  • Are the prevention programmes based on joint assessment of the social partners and defined in an agreed policy for the enterprises? Role of work councils and H/S committees.

  • Performance and outcomes of the programmes

  • Changes overtime

  • Assessment of the programmes. Point of view of the social partners.

General note

National alcohol/drugs prevention programs are established at national level. The first program was introduced for time period 2005 - 2008, the second was prepared in 2009, but not adopted. Its revised version for 2012 – 2014 is now being discussed.

The problem is also tackled in Guidelines on population health, 2011 - 2017 (being elaborated).

Several NGOs deal with problems of excessive alcohol/drug use in Latvia. These are divided in three groups:

  • anti-alcohol societies,

  • abstainers’ societies,

  • societies for assistance organised by former alcoholics.

  • focus on general issues or support particular groups.

Organisation(s) responsible for these programmes

National alcohol prevention programs are conducted by the Government (Ministry of Healthcare), and supported by public organisations in the field.

In 2003, the Government established cross ministry institution – National alcohol use elimination council (Nacionālā alkoholisma ierobežošanas padome), chaired by the Minister of healthcare. The Council consists of high level officials of all ministries, government institutions – VEC, RPNC, the Latvian Employers’ Confederation (Latvijas Darba Devēju konfederācija, LDDK), the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia (Latvijas Brīvo Arodbiedrību savienība, LBAS), the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (Latvijas Pašvaldību savienība, LPS), the Latvian Traders’ Association (Latvijas Tirgotāju asociācija, LTA).

This organisation discusses and approves relevant policy documents before they are submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers and Saeima. Alcohol/drugs policy documents are normally elaborated by the Ministry of Healthcare.

Drivers and motivations. Objectives

Study 1 and Study 2 show that risks of use of alcohol/drugs is properly understood in business. In all sectors, except state management, more than 50% of enterprises see working in condition of alcohol giddiness very dangerous (Study 2). Also NGOs support prevention of alcohol/drug use. Public support creates drivers and motivation of alcohol prevention programs. Social partners are not active.

Objectives of the program are: to avoid traumatism and accidents at work and to eliminate consequences of use of alcohol at workplace.

Target groups

General approach to the problem is used, with special attention to fields where traumatism and accidents at work may cause serious consequences (forestry, construction, working by using mechanisms). The program is not specified to specific occupations.

Content and activities developed

The before mentioned alcohol prevention program envisages measures in four directions: elimination of supply, elimination of demand and elimination of use of alcohol in a risky and damaging way.

The first direction includes: fighting illegal flows of alcohol drinks, control over quality and harmlessness of alcohol drinks, restrictions on alcohol advertisements, elimination of accessibility of alcohol drinks for youth, stronger control over trade with alcoholic drinks.

The second direction includes: increasing of taxes on alcoholic drinks, developing preventive treatment of alcohol use (for instance, stronger parents’ responsibility over their children regarding alcohol use), ensuring facilities for medical treatment and rehabilitation.

The third direction includes: reducing number of road accidents due to alcohol use, reducing consequences of alcohol use in public environment.

The fourth direction includes the following: provision for National alcohol use elimination council (Nacionālā alkoholisma ierobežošanas padome) work, producing of Yearbook on extent and consequences of use of dependency creating substances, monitoring of use of alcoholic drinks,

Tools

Tools include legislation proposals, monitoring and control, informative measures, as well as capacity building measures for people involved in implementation of the program.

Inter-relation with other (health) programmes. Participation of health professionals

The program is extension of the population health programs (usually section Non-toxic diseases, sub-section Wrong habits. These are: Population health strategy (Sabiedrības veselības stratēģija), approved by the Cabinet of ministers in 6 March 2001, Action plan for 2004-2010 of the Population health strategy, Guidelines on population health, 2011 - 2017, Ministry of Healthcare (at the stage of approval).

Integrated in the general working conditions/OSH training programmes and management systems

Prevention programmes are integrated in the general working conditions/OSH training programmes and management systems in part of safety at work. Surveys indicate that majority of causes of traumatism in section Accidents to unsteady action in VDI statistics are because of use of alcohol a day before working. An important aspect that is discussed is increased threat of traumatism for surrounding workers and damage of equipment.

Basis of the prevention programmes

Prevention programmes are based on regular monitoring and research of causes and motivation, habits, other factors promoting use of alcohol. Study 1 and Study 2 were conducted specifically to estimate impact of use of alcohol in working environment. Adoption procedure prescribes that programmes (and background data) should be discussed among social partners. Consensus of partners on programs does not mean that they are agreed for all enterprises, unless particular measures are implemented in legislation that is obligatory for enterprises.

Only some work councils are established in Latvia, their role is insignificant at national level. Health and Social committees are direct participants in elaboration of programmes.

Performance and outcomes of the programmes

As stated in Guidelines on population health, 2011 – 2017, for the first time within last seven years use of alcohol in general has decreased. Compared with 2008, consumption of absolute alcohol per population has decreased by 3.8 litres – 6.1 litres were consumed in 2009.

Changes overtime

Changes can not be estimated because new program is not yet adopted.

Assessment of the programmes. Point of view of the social partners

The Ministry of Healthcare assess the first alcohol/drug prevention program as partly fulfilled.

Study 2 reveals that trade unions, work protection and population health specialists support indirect alcohol/drug use prevention measures rather than drastic control at workplace. They mention creation of good working environment, psychological assistance, targeting problems that facilitate use of alcohol/drugs, education, developing of social dialogue and partnership, increasing employer’s role. Employers are more reluctant to these measures, referring to costs and efficiency factors.

Commentary

To appearance of statistical data and respondents’ answers in surveys alcohol/drug use at work is not the most important problem in Latvian enterprises. Nevertheless it causes severe consequences such as traumatism, damage of equipment, lower productivity, poor quality of work, social problems, and lost income not only for people using alcohol/drugs, but also for surrounding workers. This motivates for continuous action against alcohol/drugs use in general and elimination of its impacts in working environment in particular. Activities are evident not only at the government level, but also in enterprises. Alcohol consumption has decreased in 2009, compared with 2008.

Raita Karnite, EPC, Ltd.

References

  • Prevalence of alcohol use and elimination of consequences of alcohol use in working enwironment in different sectors of economy (Alkohola izplatība un alkohola lietošanas seku mazināšanas iespējas darba vidē dažādās tautsaimniecības nozarēs), Riga, 2008. Prepared by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia (Latvijas Universitātes Filozofijas un socioloģijas institūts, LUFSI), supervisor Ritma Rungule, in Latvian. http://vec.gov.lv/uploads/files/4d00de7ad29f4.pdf

  • Impact of alcohol use on accidents in working environment and road accidents (Alkohola lietošanas ietekme uz nelaimes gadījumiem darba vidēs un ceļu satiksmes negadījumiem), Riga 2008. Prepared by the Institute of Sociological Research (Socioloģisko pētījumu institūts, SPI), supervisor Ilze Koroļeva, in Latvian. http://vec.gov.lv/uploads/files/4d00de6f98096.pdf

  • Alkohola, narkotisko, psihotropo vai toksisko vielu ietekmes pārbaudes kārtība. Regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers Nr. 394, Approved on 2 June 2008. http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=176425&from=off

  • Alkohola patēriņa mazināšanas un alkoholisma ierobežošanas programma 2005. – 2008.gadam (Informative part). Approved by the Regulation Nr.40 of the Cabinet of Ministers on 19 January 2005. http://phoebe.vm.gov.lv/misc_db/web.nsf/bf25ab0f47ba5dd785256499006b15a4/17cb8c1218bf81cdc2257313001f391a/$FILE/alko_programma.pdf

  • "Alkohola reibumā, darba pienākumus veicot". Latvijas Vēstnesis, 18.09.2009, http://www.lv.lv/index.php?menu=DOC&id=197840). (In Latvian).

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  • ”Piedzērušos var atlaist nekavējoties.” Komersanta Vēstnesis, 21.02.2007, http://www.kvestnesis.lv/body_print.php?id=153324. (In Latvian).

  • Psihiskie un uzvedības traucējumi psihoaktīvo vielu lietošanas dēļ. Statistical data. VEC. http://vec.gov.lv/uploads/files/4e0f42efb2f56.doc

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