Working in racing has physical risks, particularly when working around horses. Using drugs or alcohol can lead to impairment. Poor concentration, carelessness, risk-taking behaviour and errors in judgement can occur. There are proven links to greater potential for injury or accident when working under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
This can also apply to ‘the next day’ - as significant alcohol or drug use outside the workplace, can have lasting effects. And in racing - a high-pressure industry that can often involve large, fast-moving animals - the effects of health and safety breaches, or errors in judgement, can be particularly severe.
Under law, both employers and employees have a duty to ensure that the workplace is safe.
An employer’s duty is to provide employees with the highest level of protection from risks as is reasonably practicable - including risks from drug or alcohol use.
Employees have a duty to take reasonable care for their own and others' safety - and comply with reasonable policies relating to health and safety, including the use of alcohol and drugs.
In safety sensitive workplaces (such as many racing industry environments) pre-employment testing can be used by employers - when this is a condition of their appointment and recorded in the employment agreement or other document. It is strongly advisable that employers in the racing industry include this requirement for relevant roles & positions.
It can also be legal for employers to test specific employee for a specific purpose, when:
- The employee shows signs of being affected by drugs or alcohol; or
- The employee has recently been involved in a workplace accident or a near-miss.
The best advice for employers in racing, is to consider risks upfront, and make policies clear to current and potential employees. It is also advisable for both employers and employees to carefully understand their rights and responsibilities - with more detail available at WorkSafe NZ
Beyond racing workplaces, excessive drinking or use of illicit drugs has negative impacts on personal health, relationships, money and general wellbeing. If you or someone you care about is suffering from abuse or addiction of drugs or alcohol, help is available. Change is possible. Many people suffering the effects of drugs or alcohol have sought help and their lives improved.
Seek advice and support from your GP or by contacting Dianna Young (racing’s drug & alcohol counsellor provided by the Salvation Army).
Dianna can be contacted via 021 941 085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drugs, alcohol and work - Employment NZ
Effective Drug & Alcohol Policies for Employers - DrugFoundation NZ
Alcohol Drug Helpline