Just wondering what others think of the following situation? As someone who drinks very moderately, my view might be a bit different to the mainstream.
Situation as follows.
Small workplace within a large organisation. The work done involves mechanical / electrical tasks and associated driving, use of machinery, working around hazardous substances and so on. So there is an inherent danger associated with the work.
A trend has developed where workers drink beer at the end of the day. This started as an end of week thing only with a strictly enforced policy that it not commence until 15 minutes before finishing time. It was that way for atleast a decade, probably longer. Anyone required to work overtime (or during the day after some official company lunchtime function etc) was under orders not to consume alcohol, failure to comply risking their employment.
To cut a long story short, now it seems to be a 3 (sometimes 5) day a week occurrence with an increasing trend for the manager to over-rule the supervisor on the 15 minute requirement.
The supervisor belives that the 15 minute requirement, which was set at that time due to some Award stating that staff have 15 minutes at the end of the day to wash hands, shower etc, ought to be strictly enforced. Either that or an outright ban on consuming alcohol at work becomes the only other sensible option.
What I'm worried about is (listed in no particular order):
1. Massive social pressure on everyone to drink when it becomes part of the workplace culture. This includes some with a zero alcohol requirement on their drivers' license (every person who works there drives home) and others who would prefer to drink less but feel socially pressured to do otherwise in order to "fit in".
2. Legal liability of the supervisor (as distinct from the manager who is senior) in the event the supervisor allocates overtime or on-call work to someone they know has been drinking. What happens in the event of a workplace accident?
3.If it's OK to be drinking an hour before you finish work then why not just do it all day? Surely this is going to end up with people drinking at lunchtime etc? That then makes for an incredibly unsafe workplace given machinery etc. Already there have been instances of workers turning up unfit to work.
4. Loss of company reputation. A number of technical underperformances have already occurred involving workers on paid overtime who had been drinking. With no formal policy, the apparent view of the manager and the actual task not requiring driving, there is no mandate for the supervisor or other staff to take any action over this.
5. Legal liability of the supervisor, manager and/or company in relation to all of the above. That's the one I'm really worried about - I just can't see this ending well.
6. Any other serious issues? No doubt there's plenty I've missed.
So, what do others think? I'm not a drinking person as I said at the start, but I've got no problem with a rule that states 15 minutes. Everyone knows where they stand, if it's official wash up time then there is no dangerous work beign done unless someone is working late (in which case they wouldn't be drinking), nobody's going to get drunk in that time and so on. Maybe still not ideal, but it seems a reasonable "keep the peace" compromise to me. Someone else I spoke with thought 10 minutes would be better.
But with the way it is now, it's only a matter of time before someone who should be zero gets put on the breatho, someone has an accident at work etc. Then what happens? I'm guessing that's when lawyers get involved and the whole thing turns nasty?