EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

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

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  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 03 May 2012



About
Country:
Lithuania
Author:
Inga Blaziene
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.

In Lithuania, no representative surveys have been conducted to enable a judgement to be made on the scope of alcohol/drug use at the workplace. The main (and the only) source of such information is State Labour Inspectorate’s (VDI) information on fatal and severe accidents at work involving death and/or injuries of intoxicated employees. During the period of rapid economic growth (2003-2007), intoxicated employees accounted for some 30% of persons killed in accidents at work in Lithuania; this portion was even higher in the construction sector reaching around 40-50%. Unfortunately, the social partners in Lithuania refrain from tackling these problems and leave full responsibility and initiatives to the VDI.

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

Information of the State Labour Inspectorate on the accidents at work.

Information on intoxicated persons severely injured or killed in accidents at work is covered by Annual Reports of the VDI, which publishes information on the total number of severe and fatal accidents at work, including the number of intoxicated employees injured/killed in accidents at work, on an annual/quarterly/semi-annual basis. (VDI)

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.

With regard to any other sources of information, we can mention some final theses prepared by students and/or press surveys. However, these surveys shall not be analysed in this paper due to insufficient reliability/significance of the results thereof.

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

Unfortunately, there is no information (sources) in Lithuania on the prevalence of drug/alcohol use at the workplace.

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

Rationale of drug/alcohol use at work

Unfortunately, there is no information (sources) in Lithuania on the rationale of drug/alcohol use at the workplace.

Consequences of drug/alcohol use at work

According to the information provided by the VDI, intoxicated with alcohol persons accounted for 20-30% of those killed at work and for 10-20% of those severely injured at work in 2003-2010 (see Table 1).

Table 1. Fatal and severe accidents at work in Lithuania in 2003-2010
 

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Fatal accidents at work
Total

117

90

118

108

101

77

49

49

Of which, intoxicated

33

29

31

31

29

19

11

7

Share of intoxicated employees, %

28,2

32,2

26,3

28,7

28,7

24,7

22,4

14,3

Severe accidents at work
Total

162

173

215

228

194

149

106

126

Of which, intoxicated

26

33

34

36

36

17

13

14

Share of intoxicated employees, %

16,0

19,1

16,0

16,0

18,6

11,4

12,3

11,1

Source: VDI information

The statistical information above implies that the use of alcohol at work and the number of accidents relating thereto were higher during economic upturn in Lithuania (2003-2007) and lower during the period of economic recession (2008-2010). This trend might be explained by the shortage of employees, which was felt in the years of economic upturn, and less strict position of employers as to the use of alcohol at work.

Construction and transport sectors

According to the information provided by the VDI, construction and transport sectors in Lithuania represent the sectors with considerably higher levels of fatal and severe accidents at work, as compared to other economic activities. Moreover, the number of intoxicated persons killed and/or injured in accidents at work is significantly greater in the construction sector (see Table 2).

Table 2. Fatal accidents at work in Lithuania in 2005-2010 in construction and transport sectors
 

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Construction sector
Total

33

29

23

27

10

5

Of which, intoxicated

12

15

10

8

2

0

Share of intoxicated employees, %

36,4

51,7

43,5

29,6

20,0

0,0

Transport sector
Total

22

29

21

29

10

11

Of which, intoxicated

3

2

2

5

1

1

Share of intoxicated employees, %

13,6

6,9

9,5

17,2

10,0

9,1

Source: VDI information

As we can see from the data above, around 40-50% of employees killed in accidents at work in 2005-2007 were in a state of alcohol intoxication. Same as in any other economic activity in the country, the trend of less strict position of employers towards alcohol use at work was prevalent in the construction sector as a result of extremely big shortage of employees in this sector within the period of economic growth.

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

Existing legislation

There are no agreements concerning the prohibition/limitation of alcohol/drug use at work in Lithuania; regulation of this domain falls exclusively within the jurisdiction of the State.

According to Article 123 § 1 of the main Lithuanian law regulating labour relations, the Labour Code of the Republic of Lithuania (further – LC), ‘If an employee comes to work intoxicated with alcohol, narcotic or toxic substances, an employer shall not allow him working on that day (shift) and shall suspend his wage’. Employer’s failure to remove from work the employee which is in a state of alcohol, narcotic or other substance intoxication may inflict a fine on the employer imposable by the VDI.

Being at work while under the influence of alcohol, narcotic or toxic substances constitutes a basis for dismissing the employee from work without a prior notice. According to Article 136 of the LC, an employer is entitled to terminate an employment contract without giving an employee prior notice, inter alia, ‘when the employee commits one gross breach of duties’. According to Article 235 § 2 of the LC, a ‘gross breach of work duties’ inter alia includes ‘where, during the working time, the employee is under the influence of alcohol, narcotic or toxic substances, with the exception of cases where intoxication was caused by the industrial processes at the enterprise’.

In 2008, Methodological Recommendations on the Removal from Work for Alcohol or Other Psychoactive Intoxication (the Recommendations) were approved by the order of the Chief State Labour Inspector. The Recommendations are aimed at recommending an employer the procedures to be taken to remove an employee from work if he/she appears at the workplace while under the influence of alcohol, narcotic or toxic substances.

Sectoral legislation

There are no sectoral agreements in Lithuania concerning the prohibition/limitation of alcohol/drug use at work.

According to the existing legislation, somewhat stricter limitations are only applied in the transport sector. According to Article 26 of the Law on Alcohol Control, ‘Employers must ensure that prior to a journey verification be done to see whether their employees who drive (pilot) the means of transport of undertakings, institutions and organisations are sober (not drunk)’.

The Government of the Republic of Lithuania (LRV) has approved the Rules of Examination for Alcohol or Other Intoxication in Drivers of Motor Vehicles and Other Persons. These Rules are followed to test transport-sector employees (drivers) for alcohol intoxication.

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:

Describe changes, evolution development of regulation / agreements on testing, drawing the attention to the review in light of the improvement of the testing methods

As already mentioned in the previous chapter, the Methodological Recommendations on the Removal from Work for Alcohol Intoxication were approved in Lithuania in 2008. The Recommendations, inter alia, provide for assessment of the following aspects prior to initiating the procedure of removal from work for alcohol, narcotic or toxic substance abuse (hereinafter referred to as “psychoactive substances”):

  • The signs which presence gives grounds to suspect a person being in a state of intoxication due to alcohol or psychoactive substances (bad smell, inadequate behaviour, slurring of speech, etc.);

  • Readings of technical devices (alcohol test kits, etc.) for establishing intoxication due to alcohol or psychoactive substances (the use of such technical devices can be agreed in employment contracts, collective agreements or rules of work; where such agreements are absent, the use of the mentioned technical devices is subject to employee’s consent), etc.

Once the above-mentioned circumstances are assessed and there are grounds to suspect an employee being under the influence of alcohol or psychoactive substances, it is recommended that a statement of removal from work for intoxication due to alcohol or psychoactive substances is written right away. (The statement is signed by an employer (or his representative) and at least two employees of an enterprise). Where the employee disagrees with the removal, it is recommended sending him or her to a health care institution for medical examination. The medical examination shall be performed in compliance with the Methodology of Medical Examinations for Intoxication Due to Alcohol or Psychoactive Substances and the Methodology for the Evaluation of Overall Health Condition.

The above recommendations were approved in May 2008 in a result of significant increase in the number of accidents at work involving injuries/deaths of intoxicated employees in the period of economic upturn (2003-2007).

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:

Role of the social partners

Same as in case with alcohol/drug use at the workplace, there actually are no agreements of the social partners in Lithuania concerning prevention of the use of alcohol/drugs. This issue is also left for the competence and responsibility of the State, or VDI in particular.

According to the information, provided by the VDI:

  • Just a few enterprises in the country apply measures to combat alcohol use at the workplace on a systematic basis;

  • As a matter of fact, the issue of preventive measures to combat the use of alcohol at work failed to become an integral part of collective agreements;

  • Just a few enterprises have implemented and apply in practice the systems of financial stimulation involving deductions of a variable part of wage for non-compliance with occupational safety and health requirements or alcohol abuse at work.

Prevention plan and recommendations

In order to change the existing situation and reduce the number of intoxicated employees killed at work, in 2008 the Chief State Labour Inspector of the Republic of Lithuania issued an order approving the VDI plan of preventive measures to combat risks of alcohol intoxication at work and related accidents (the Plan) and recommendations for the elimination of alcohol use, as that of a risk factor, in Lithuanian enterprises, agencies and organisations.

The Plan provided for the following measures:

  • Regular analysis of information on accidents at work involving injuries/deaths of intoxicated persons, summary of such information and submission of related conclusions;

  • Collection, filing, analysis and publication of information on good corporate practices in the formation of policy of inadmissibility of alcohol use at work and implementation of preventive measures;

  • Elaboration of methodological recommendations for enterprises on the use of technical testing devices when there are reasonable grounds to suspect employees being in a state of alcohol intoxication;

  • Organisation of awareness campaigns aimed at prevention of the use of alcohol at work, etc.

The recommendations provided for the principles of anti-alcohol policy building in enterprises and elimination of alcohol at work as a risk factor.

Implementation of preventive measures

The order stipulated that enterprises/employers, within one moth from the issue of the order, should use scheduled publicity measures (meetings, seminars, briefings, etc.) to familiarise all their employees with the Plan and key regulatory acts as well as other documents regulating prevention of alcohol intoxication at work. In addition, the order set forth that “issues relating to disciplinary violations and/or accidents at work involving alcohol intoxication at the workplace should be considered by the top management body of the enterprises, or otherwise as selected by the enterprise, in the presence of employee representatives, in the procedure and at the intervals established by the enterprise”.

Enterprises with intoxicated employees killed or severely injured in accidents at work as well as construction, transport companies and some other businesses were obligated to prepare, within two months from the issue of the order, prevention plans to combat the use of alcohol at work and to make their employees familiar with the measures foreseen in the plans.

VDI inspectors were delegated with powers to take control of the implementation of the order on enterprise level (with priority given to transport, construction and some other sectors) and consult employers, employees and professionals from their representative organisations on the issues relating to the implementation of the order.

In addition, the order recommended that national, sectoral and regional employer and trade union organisations as well as enterprise-level trade unions and works councils actively join the efforts aimed at preventing traumatism and other negative consequences of the use of alcohol at work.

Unfortunately, the VDI does not provide any information on the implementation of the prevention measures foreseen in the order in Lithuanian enterprises, agencies and organisations.

Commentary by the NC

Relatively high number of intoxicated employees and related fatal/severe accidents at work was observed in Lithuania during the period of economic growth (2003-2007), whereas it began to decline in the period of economic recession (2008-2010) (see Table 1). Unfortunately, we may only deplore, that Lithuanian social partners actually refrained from playing any active role in tackling this problem (we did not find any initiatives of social partners designed to tackle the alcohol usage at work); full responsibility and initiatives aimed at rectifying the existing situation were vested upon the VDI. In 2006-2008, a number of various initiatives were considered with a view to increasing penalties for alcohol intoxication at work; VDI developed the plan of preventive measures to combat risks of alcohol intoxication at work and related accidents, and the recommendations on the prevention of alcohol use at the workplace and removal from work due to alcohol intoxication. With the start of economic recession in 2008 and ensuing growth of unemployment, there was a decrease in the number of fatal/severe accidents at work as well as the number of victims of such accidents in 2008-2010. In turn, there was the subsequent decrease in attention to the problem; the VDI provides no information on the implementation of the measures of 2008 in Lithuanian enterprises, agencies and organisations.

Inga Blaziene, Institute of Labour and Social Research

References

  • Labour Code of the Republic of Lithuania, approved by Law No. IX-926 of 4 June 2002; available at http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=391385

  • Methodology of Medical Examinations for Intoxication Due to Alcohol or Psychoactive Substances and the Methodology for the Evaluation of Overall Health Condition, approved by the Order of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania on 20 June, 2006 No V-505; available at http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=279226 (in Lithuanian only)

  • Methodological Recommendations on the Removal from Work for Alcohol or Other Psychoactive Intoxication, approved by the the Chief State Labour Inspector in 2008 (Official Gazette No 55-2113); available at http://www.vdi.lt/index.php?1523790161 (in Lithuanian only)

  • Rules of Examination for Alcohol or Other Intoxication in Drivers of Motor Vehicles and Other Persons, approved by by the LRV Decree on 12 May 2006, No 452; available at http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=347425 (in Lithuanian only)

  • Reports on the state on employees’ health and safety and labour law enforcement in Lithuanian companies, institutions and organisations in 2003-2010, prepared by State Labour Inspectorate; available at http://www.vdi.lt/index.php?1716170122 (in Lithuanian only)

  • VDI plan of preventive measures to combat risks of alcohol intoxication at work and related accidents, approved on 20 June 2008, No V-181 (Official Gazette No 73-2849); available at http://www.vdi.lt/index.php?1085745454 (in Lithuanian only)

  • Law on Alcohol Control, approved on 18 April 1995 by the Law No I-857 (last amended on 24 May 2011 – No XI-1406); available at http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=400708

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