Help keep employers on their festive toes

Amid the furore over the government’s extension of licensing laws in England and Wales, the party season begins. Whether the changes to the law, which came into effect at the end of last month actually discourage so called ‘binge drinking’ – which, it has been argued, has been perpetuated by drinking up time – only time will tell, but in the meantime, most workplaces will be holding some kind of a party for staff, which usually involves alcohol.

The cover story (page 12) in this month’s issue warns it is not just alcohol that can be an issue at the office party. Recreational drug use is another problem, and just because illicit drugs are taken off duty and usually outside workplace premises doesn’t mean that employers are not liable. The other dangers are when an individual’s behaviour deteriorates after too many drinks and becomes abusive, or if employees are incapable of doing their job the morning after the night before. Is it a disciplinary issue or has the employer who organised the offending event got some culpability? You might find some of the case law in the article surprising.

If a worker is seen nodding off at their desk it may be assumed that they’ve had a late night. If they frequently seem very tired and groggy, could it mean they’ve got a drink problem, or it is something else? The fascinating article (page 20) on obstructive sleep apnoea looks at the causes and effects of this condition and the practical ways in which OH practitioners can be of help.

As we come to the last issue of the year, I am editing my final issue of Occupational Health. I would like to thank all the practitioners who have contributed ideas, views and of course articles during my time as editor, and hope you’ll continue to help the magazine chart the valuable contribution the occupational health nursing profession makes to working life.

Sara Bean

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