The UK’s globally renowned maritime sector serves as a foundation for nearly every industry in the country. For centuries, it has played a pivotal role in the UK’s growth and development by facilitating global trade effectively.

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Improper use of alcohol and drugs can detrimentally impact work performance.

The safety of a vessel, its crew and passengers is compromised when there is any level of alcohol or drug consumption among crew members. Even minimal amounts of alcohol have proven to impair judgement significantly, escalating the risk of accidents.

This behaviour poses a threat to the ship, cargo, and the marine environment, resulting in potential health issues, fatalities, and significant financial consequences for employers, seafarers and their families.

Addressing the misuse of drugs and alcohol necessitates active engagement and interest from employers. Effectively managing this issue involves careful consideration of safety, health, welfare, sickness, absence management, and discipline concerns. The most efficient way of discouraging drug and alcohol use in your shipping company is to implement a drug and alcohol policy and enforce it with drug and alcohol screening.

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Drug and alcohol testing in sea industries

Companies can implement various methods for drug and alcohol testing, including pre-employment, periodic routine, for cause and random testing.

Post-incident testing serves as crucial evidence during investigations into any maritime incidents. It helps determine whether the seafarers involved were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident or its immediate aftermath.

Random shipboard testing helps companies in upholding the maximum permissible blood/alcohol content set by the company. However, implementing random testing requires sensitivity, and companies should assess its compatibility with existing terms and conditions of employment. If not compatible, the company should seek contract variations. Clear communication is essential, specifying which seafarers will undergo random testing on board and designating authorised individuals to conduct the tests.

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