EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Poland: 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:
Poland
Author:
Marta Trawinska
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.

The available statistical data does not provide sufficient information about the scale of the phenomenon or the situation in individual sectors or professions. There is no research devoted directly to the analysis of the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace – the majority of research studies focus on analyses of the use of psychoactive substances in the whole society, and in particular, among young people. Polish law regulates the issue of using alcohol at workplace on a national scale. What is missing, are provisions that would regulate the use of drugs in an equally precise manner. Another missing element are informative and preventive programmes and activities dealing with the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace.

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

Generally speaking, there are no regular analyses carried out concerning the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace. The available statistical data on alcohol and drugs does not contain much information about the use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace.

The following sources may provide some valuable information:

Name of the statistical source: "Attitudes towards alcohol " by CBOS (Public Opinion Research Center)

Scope: national

Goals: examining the attitudes towards alcohol and the culture related to its consumption (what Polish people drink, how often, at what occasions, where).

Methodology: national survey of a random and representative sample of adult inhabitants of Poland aged 18 or more

Periodicity: a one-off survey carried out in 2010

Main findings/outcomes: in this survey only one query referred to the issue of using alcohol at the workplace. Among respondents no one declared using of alcohol at the workplace.

Name of the statistical source: "Attitudes towards drugs " by CBOS.

Scope: national

Goals: examining the attitudes towards drugs.

Methodology: national survey of a random and representative sample (1080 people) of adult inhabitants of Poland aged 18 or more

Periodicity: a one-off survey carried out in 2011.

Main findings/outcomes: the survey shows that 7% of respondents used drugs at least once and it is mainly young people (up to 34 years of age), but the study does not inquiry the using of drugs at the workplace.

Name of the statistical source: „Alcohol consumption patterns in Poland” in 2005 and 2008 commissioned by Państwowa Agencja Rozwiązywania Problemów Alkoholowych (PARPA – The State Agency for the Prevention of Alcohol-Related Problems)

Scope: national

Goals: Determining the volume and the structure of alcohol consumption among adult Poles

Methodology: national survey of a random and representative sample (1075 people) of adults inhabitants of Poland aged 18 or more.

Periodicity: every three years

Main findings/outcomes: According to researches in Poland consumption of alcohol has decreased during last years. More respondents consumed alcohol at their workplace but the same percentage in 2005 and 2008 of respondents witnessed consumption of alcohol at the workplace.

Name of the statistical source: DRUID - Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol and Medicines carried out by Instytut Transportu Samochodowego (ITS – Motor Transport Institute), Instytut Ekspertyz Sądowych (Institute of Forensic Research) and Komendę Główną Policji (Polish National Police).

Scope: national

Goals: To determine the scale of spread of alcohol, medicines and drugs use among drivers

Methodology: national survey of a random sample of drivers (4328 in 2 years), accompanying roadside alcohol screening tests by the policePeriodicity: a one-off survey in 2010

Main findings/outcomes: According to research 1,02% of drivers drove under the influence of alcohol and 2,53% under the influence of drugs. The most frequent drugs under the influence of which were drivers were: marijuana, hashish and amphetamine.

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.

Suggested extension of this section: around 100 words

The following studies can provide additional valuable information:

The study "Experimenting with and abuse of psychoactive substances as well as compulsive behaviour among young employees of financial and banking sector institutions and big corporations" carried out in 2009 by PEDAGOGIUM Foundation and PEDAGOGIUM Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiki Resocjalizacyjnej in Warsaw. The study consisted of interviews with 441 employees of the financial-banking sector in 7 Polish cities. The study report is not available in an electronic version but the study results have been presented in a press article.

Some information on the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace may be inferred from statistical data concerning accidents at the workplace. Such data is gathered and made available by: Główny Urząd Statystyczny (GUS – Cetral Statistical Office) in the form of thematic publications, for instance for the year 2009; and Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy (PIP – National Labour Inspectorate) in the form of annual reports of the Chief Labour Inspector concerning the activities of the National Labour Inspectorate.

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

As it has been mentioned before, there are not enough studies and data to carry out an in-depth analysis of the issue of drug/alcohol use at the workplace. The studies that are available indicate the following:

- according to the study “Alcohol consumption patterns in Poland”, in 2008 (PARPA) 8.2% of the respondents consumed alcohol at their workplace. This is slightly more compared to a study of 2005, where the percentage of such people was 7.4%

- the same studies also show that as much as 16% of respondents witnessed consumption of alcohol at the workplace (the same percentage in 2005 and 2008).

It is worth emphasizing that in Poland no data is collected concerning drug/alcohol use at the workplace taking into account sectors, occupations, working conditions, etc. There are, however, studies concerning consumption of alcohol among various groups of employees. Unfortunately, such studies rather measure the general level of drugs and alcohol consumption within individual categories of respondents – no distinction is made between consumption of drugs and alcohol at the workplace and outside work.

The survey "Attitudes towards drugs" carried out by CBOS in 2011 shows that 7% of respondents used drugs at least once (in 2007 it was 4%). If one looks at social-occupational groups, the percentage of those using drugs is the following: 16% of those who run their own businesses; 15% of managers, administration and office workers, people employed in private and state-owned companies. The study also shows that it is mainly young people – up to 34 years of age – who take drugs. It was 14% of people in age 18-24 and 16% in age 25-34.

The study discussed in the press article, "Experimenting with and abuse of psychoactive substances as well as compulsive behaviour among young employees of financial and banking sector institutions and big corporations" shows that as much as 93% of respondents use some sort of chemical substance of supportive or stimulating effect. The dominating substance is alcohol – it is used by 92% of employees of the banking and financial sector under survey. Almost 18% of respondents drink alcohol every day. 8% of employees drink alcohol during their working hours - this usually involves drinks or wine consumed with lunch. Almost 50% of respondents regularly drink energizing drinks. Similarly, every second respondent declares that he or she knows someone from their own company who occasionally uses drugs, and 11% of respondents know more than 5 such people. In the surveyed population, the occupations most often using drugs include IT specialists, account managers, sales representatives, junior managers and brokers. The following situations prompt the respondents to use psychoactive substances: stress at work, workload (e.g. overtime), mobbing. Psychoactive substances are also used during trips organised by the company for a group of employees; they are then treated as a way to release the stress, competition, mobbing and intensive work.

Similarly, there are not enough detailed studies concerning the use of alcohol and drugs in the transport sector. Some approximate data may be provided by the DRUID survey, thanks to the methodology used in this study, that is, random checks of the cars and commercial vans up to 3.5 tons, travelling over Polish roads. According to this study, the alcohol content exceeding the limit allowed in Poland (that is, more than 0.2 pro mille) has been found in 1.02% of all the drivers tested during the checks. Drugs have been found at 2.53% of all the tested drivers. The illicit psychoactive substances most popular among drivers include marihuana, cannabis and amphetamine.

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…)

As far as the consequences of the use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace are concerned, we can get some estimate by analysing the data concerning the causes of accidents at workplace, collected by GUS and PIP. It must, however, be stressed that both organisations apply a category of accident causes that is wider than just use of alcohol or drugs, namely, „inappropriate mental-physical condition of employee” under which only some accidents may be attributed to use of alcohol/drugs.

According to the data from Accidents at Work in 2005 GUS, 2.8% of all accidents at work were caused by inappropriate mental-physical condition of the employee. There were  4411 such accidents. 123 of them were fatalities and 113 involved heavy injuries.

Out of 13735 accidents in the construction sector (section F of NACE rev 1.1), 307 were caused by inappropriate mental-physical condition (that is 2.3%). Out of that number, 17 accidents were fatal and 12 involved heavy injuries.

As regards the transport sector, (division 60, 61, 62, 63 of section I of NACE rev 1.1), there were 7587 in total, of which 214 were classified as caused by inappropriate mental –physical condition, which accounts for 2.8%. Out of this number, 15 accidents were fatal and 7 involved heavy injuries.

According to the data from Accidents at Work in 2009 GUS, 2.2% of all accidents at work were caused by inappropriate mental-physical condition of the employee. There were 3705 such accidents. 89 of them were fatalities and 58 involved heavy injuries.

Out of 18741 accidents in the construction sector (section F of NACE rev 2), 338 were caused by inappropriate mental-physical condition (i.e. 1.8%). Out of this number, 26 accidents were fatal and 9 involved heavy injuries.

As regards the transport sector, (the data quoted come from the whole section H of NACE rev 2) there were 10505 in total, of which 227 were classified as caused by inappropriate mental-physical condition, which accounts for 2.2%. 9 of them were fatal, 8 involved heavy injuries.

The PIP data for 2005 gathered from post-accident inspections show that inappropriate mental-physical condition of the employee was the cause of 8.7% of fatal accidents in 2005. The data for the year 2010 shows that the post-accident inspections indicated that 2.8% accidents were caused by inappropriate mental-physical condition of the employee which did not ensure that the work was carried out safely.

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

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

The Act dated 26 October 1982 on Upbringing in Sobriety and Prevention of Alcoholism (Dziennik Ustaw z 2007 nr 70, [Journal of Laws of 2007 no. 70] item 473 as amended). The aim of the Act is primarily to support action leading to reducing the use of alcohol by citizens (also at the workplace). The Act introduced the legal ban on sale, serving and consumption of alcohol at the workplace. The Act also regulates the issue of testing practices intended to control the use of alcohol/drugs at work.

The Act dated 25 March 2011 on reducing administrative barriers for citizens and entrepreneurs, which entered into force on 1 July 2011. It regulates a number of aspects related to business activity and its provisions concerning use of alcohol at work are intended to provide better possibilities to test the sobriety of employees that the ones included in the above mentioned Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Prevention of Alcoholism (Dziennik Ustaw z 2007 nr 70).

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?

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

The Act dated 26 October 1982 on Upbringing in Sobriety and Prevention of Alcoholism (Journal of Laws of 2007 No. 70, item 473 as amended). The Act regulates the basic issues related to testing practices.

In case of a justified suspicion that an employee is under the influence of alcohol, the manager of the workplace (or a person authorized by him) is obliged to prevent such an employee from working. At the request of the manager, a person authorized by him or the employee, the authorized entities may test the employee’s sobriety. Such a test may be carried out by an authorized public order enforcement body (police or municipal guard) – this applies to a breathalyzer or urine test. A blood test may be performed only by an authorized healthcare professional. Under the Act, the basis for taking such a test is the consent of the employee. The Act also provides that an intoxicated employee may be taken to a sobering-up station or to a medical facility if the situation poses a threat to this person’s or other people’s health or life.

The Act dated 25 March 2011 on reducing administrative barriers for citizens and entrepreneurs gives an employer better possibilities to control the sobriety of an employee – under this Act the employer may request that the sobriety of an employee be tested (the tests are performed by the same bodies that are referred to in the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Prevention of Alcoholism). So far, there has been a legal loophole as no coercive measures have been defined that, for instance, police summoned by the employer may apply if the employee refuses to submit to the tests. Without a legal definition of the coercive measures, sobriety testing of employees will only be possible with their consent. The Ministerstwo Zdrowia (Ministry of the Health) is now working on changing this legislation.

According to the Labour Code, using alcohol at the workplace is a gross violation of employee’s duties. If the sobriety test shows that the employee is under the influence of alcohol, the employer may terminate his employment contract or even terminate it for disciplinary reasons. The basis for such termination need not be the result of the test – the testimony of other employees who testify that they have seen a given employee drink alcohol at the workplace will be sufficient.

A public debate is currently underway in Poland concerning a possibility to apply the legislation described above to the use of drugs at the workplace. None of the above mentioned acts refers to situations when employees use psychoactive substances other than alcohol at the workplace.

In Poland there is no legal basis for carrying out pre-employment testing.

There is also separate legislation concerning driving motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The provisions of the  Criminal Code  (Journal of Laws of 1997 no. 88 item 553 as amended)  as well as  Code of Misdemeanours (Journal of Laws of 1971 no. 12 item 114 as amended) provide for identical punishment for offenders acting under the influence of drugs   (any intoxicating substance/substance giving effect similar to that of alcohol), as for actions of offenders acting under the influence of alcohol (in the state of insobriety /under the influence of alcohol).

Similarly, the act dated 20 June 1997 – Road Traffic Act (Journal of Laws of 1997 no. 98 item 602 as amended) regulates the issue of driving motor vehicles under the influence of intoxicating substances. It is forbidden to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other substance producing effect similar to alcohol. 

Under the Ordinance of the Minister of Health dated 11 June 2003 concerning the list of substances producing effect similar to that of alcohol and the conditions and manner of carrying out tests for the content of such substances in the body, the substances producing effect similar to that of alcohol whose content may be tested include: opiates; amphetamine and its analogous compounds; cocaine; tetrahydrocannabinols; benzodiazepines; barbiturates.

Suggested extension of this section: around 700-800 words

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.

The great majority of programmes aiming at prevention of the use of alcohol and drugs at work are addressed to the general public and take a form of general campaigns and awareness raising / knowledge building programmes which focus on educating the public on those psychoactive substances and preventing addiction. So far the programmes have not tackled the issue of using alcohol / drugs at work.

Krajowe Centrum Promocji Zdrowia w Miejscu Pracy [National Centre for Promotion of Health at Workplace] (an institution that is a part of Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. prof. J. Nofera - Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine) on 12 may 2011 held workshops under the project “Company without addictions – how to increase employee performance”, which was a part of the international programme MEP MIS - Maximising Employee Performance by Minimising the Impact of Substances in the Workplace.

The project was funded by the European Commission under the programme Lifelong Learning. The project was prepared because the use of psychoactive substances at workplace is a real problem of many employers in Europe – it is, among other things, a reason for increased absence and fluctuation of staff, it also affects the productivity and quality of work. The workshops were addressed to medium and high level managers who have staff management responsibilities. In view of the project authors, managers do not always have appropriate knowledge on how to effectively cope with such situations at workplace. The aim of the project was to transfer the knowledge and provide them with skills helping to cope with the problem of psychoactive substances use by employees.

Commentary by the NC

From the press it can be inferred that the problem of the use of psychoactive substances (especially drugs) at the workplace has started to increase. This phenomenon, however, has not, as yet, been reflected in legislation, in research or prevention programmes. It seems that in Poland, the issue of alcohol and drug use is treated in scientific research, in the law and in prevention programmes as a social problem involving mainly young people. This issue is also connected with the problem of misdemeanours and traffic accidents.

Marta Trawinska, Institute of Public Affairs

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