Alcohol Risk Management

Following is a curated list of ideas on alcohol risk management collected from a variety of sources.[i]

1)      Servers

  • Employees should never be permitted to act as bartenders or to serve drinks to co-workers
  • Hire a professional bartender or caterer for on-site events
  • Include in your contract with the venue or caterer that only personnel who have received alcohol-awareness training should serve alcohol
  • Bartenders and waiters should be told not to serve drinks to intoxicated guests
  • Servers should use a jigger to measure spirits


2)      Insurance

  • Since  comprehensive general liability policies sometimes provide sufficient coverage, first review your existing corporate liability coverage before purchasing a new policy
  • Employers should buy Dram Shop or liquor law liability insurance in states that recognize those causes of action
  • Put an indemnification clause in your hotel contract (see example[ii])
  • Make sure your caterer has liability insurance
  • Ensure that the contract clearly states that any liability shifts to the hotel or facility, if the event is held at a hotel


3)      Alcohol Consumption Policy

  • Develop guidelines for handling intoxicated guests
  • Prior to the event communicate the following:
    • Send an office-wide email reminding employees not to drink to excess and never to drink and drive
    • Advise them not to drink if they are on medication
    • Encourage employees to act responsibly and to control their own behavior
    • Never serve alcohol during water, snow, or transportation activities


4)      Managing Alcohol Consumption

  • Prevent your guests from becoming intoxicated by:
    • Have drinks served, rather than a self-serve bar
    • Place tent cards at each bar urging attendees to exercise good judgment in their consumption of alcohol
    • Use tickets for a cash bar, keep prices high to discourage excess, and limit the number of tickets
    • Make sure alcohol-free drinks are available
    • Provide non-salty food items to slow down the absorption of alcohol
    • Close your bar at least an hour before the end of the party, and do not announce last call
    • Locate the bars in remote locations so guests won’t easily pass them
    • Limit the number of bartenders, so it’s harder to get a drink
    • Do not have circulating waiters refill glasses
    • Schedule the party for earlier in the day, when employees may be less likely to drink excessively
    • Designate party monitors to monitor guests
    • Bartenders should be instructed not to serve anyone who appears to be intoxicated
    • Equip the bartenders with walkie-talkies and have them communicate to the meeting planner when they have refused service to a guest


5)      Transportation

  • Transportation should be provided by employers for intoxicated employees leaving work-sponsored events where alcohol is served
  • Guests should be monitored by security as they leave
  • Arrange for hotel accommodation or a taxi home for guests suspected of being intoxicated
  • Encourage the use of car pools and designated drivers
  • If an employee is refusing to be reasonable, call their spouse or a family member to come pick them up
  • If the intoxicated employee insists on driving, the employer should call the police


6)      Hotel Rooms

  • Provide designated walkers for those who are staying in the hotel but may not be able to get to their rooms without injuring themselves or abusing others (verbally or physically)


7)      Intoxicated Co-Workers

  • Designate certain employees as “spotters” to look out for colleagues who may have had too much to drink
  • Give an independent third party, such as hotel security, authority over removing a guest if it becomes obvious that the person has overindulged





[i] Sources include:  7 Steps to Limit Liquor Liability, MeetingsNet, Nicole Brudas Ferrara, Sept., 2005; To Drink or Not to Drink?:  Does Alcohol Drinking Mix Safely With Work Events?, Susan M. Heathfield, Guide; Businesses that serve alcohol at events should be aware of liability, Greta M. Kearns, Columbus Business First, Feb. 2007.

[ii] See 7 Steps to Limit Liquor Liability, MeetingsNet, Nicole Brudas Ferrara, Sept., 2005.

“Make sure that the contract with the facility or caterer providing and serving the alcohol makes it clear that the facility or caterer will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the company from and against all liability arising from alcohol-related incidents.”

“Hotel will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Group, its officers, directors, partners, agents, members, and employees from and against any and all demands, claims, damages to persons or property, losses and liabilities, including reasonable attorneys’ fees arising out of or caused by the Hotel’s negligence in connection with the provision of services of the Hotel (including but not limited to the sale and service of alcohol) or caused by any defect in the Hotel’s premises or equipment.”