With the holidays fast approaching, companies are preparing for their annual holiday parties. Not only is providing food and drinks a great way to boost company morale, but it also gives a chance for co-workers to mingle and socialize with each other on a more casual basis. It is also the perfect time to celebrate successes and look ahead to the new year.
Although this is a time to be merry and let loose, employers can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused to an employee who consumes alcohol, drives, and injuries themselves or another person.
During the 2016 OPP Festive RIDE campaign, 7,340 RIDE Stop initiatives were conducted throughout the province from November 21, 2016, to January 7, 2017. Over 600 drivers were charged with impaired driving, and an additional 388 drivers were issued warn range suspensions for driving with a blood-alcohol concentration between .05 and .08, a range. Even at these levels, the ability to drive safely is impaired. Typically, half of the recorded impaired driving incidents take place between 11 pm to 4 am, with a spike between the hours of 2 am and 3 am.
With this in mind, employers who are hosting their holiday party will need to protect their guests and follow best practices.
First and foremost, to avoid any risks of any liability, host an alcohol-free party. But, if hosting an alcohol-free bash isn’t in line with your company culture, here are some tips on minimizing risks of employer-host liability:
- Promote and instil responsible drinking measures and company expectations
- Have a plan for handling intoxicated staff members
- Allow employees to bring a plus one
- Hold the party off-site
- Allow for employees to bring a plus one.
- Hire/ensure the venue has Smart Serve certified bartenders
- Provide non-alcoholic beverages as well
- Provide drink tickets rather than open bar
- Ensure food is served when alcohol is available
- Provide taxi vouchers or reimburse employees for safe transportation home
- Have hotel accommodations nearby
- Stop servicing alcohol at a certain time, an hour or two before the party ends
- Post signs around the venue with the number of several taxi and drive-home services
Following these precautions won’t squash your party vibe, but it will ensure the safety of your employees while they cut loose on the dance floor and eat, drink, and be merry.
For party goers, plan ahead. Plan to have a designated driver take you home, or take an Uber or a Taxi. If possible, crash at a nearby hotel and sleep it off. Whatever you choose to do, don’t drink and drive and don’t accept a ride from a potentially impaired driver. Not only do you put yourself at risk for being careless, but you put other commuters’ lives in harm’s way.
Download the Uber app to your phone, or dial #TAXI (8294) anywhere in Canada to connect with the first available cab company in your area.
Have a safe and happy holiday!
Written by Jenna Kressler | Curriculum Developer
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