The S.A.F.E. Programme – the Maltese prevention programme at the place of work

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Agenzija Sedqa, the Maltese National Agency (within the Foundation for Social Welfare Services) that offers care and preventive services in the field of substance use and problem gambling, has been implementing the S.A.F.E. Programme in Maltese workplaces since 1996. The S.A.F.E. Programme has been implemented both in the public and private sector and over 26,000 participants, including employers, top management, middle management and employees in general have attended for the said programme.

What is the S.A.F.E. Programme?

Agenzija Sedqa’s strategy at the place of work focuses on raising awareness on substance abuse, addictions and self care at the workplace through its programme called S.A.F.E. - Substance Abuse-Free Employees Programme.

This programme focuses on the introduction or review of the company's Substance Abuse and Gambling Policy and the training of managers/supervisors and employees on addictions and self-care. It also provides a functional referral system to Agenzija Sedqa's Care services for employees who might be experiencing problems related to substance misuse and/or gambling that may be having an impact on the place of work.

What are the contents of the S.A.F.E. Programme?

The S.A.F.E. Programme consists of the following phases:

PHASE 1 – Exhibition (consisting of a roll-up banner that displays a preventive message and which is set up in a prominent place where all employees could see it).

PHASE 2 – Training sessions for management and supervisors (topics included are Alcohol and its effects, Drugs and their effects, Stress Management and Approaching the Problem Employee).

PHASE 3 – Informative sessions for employees (topics included are Alcohol and its effects, Drugs and their effects, Substance abuse and driving, Wise use of Technology, Gambling, Stress Management, Bullying at the workplace, Dealing with aggressive behaviour at the workplace and Skills for the Parent Employee).

PHASE 4 – Substance abuse and gambling policy

Although ideally each workplace would go through all the phases, the programme is designed to enable an enterprise to host one phase or more without going through the whole programme.

The S.A.F.E. Programme – Malta and beyond

Throughout the years the S.A.F.E. Programme maintained a very positive collaboration with the major Maltese Unions, Employers’ Associations and also other important stakeholders. During 2019, the Foundation for Social Welfare Services became a Corporate Partner with the Malta Employers Association.

The S.A.F.E. Programme sought to built networks even abroad throughout the years. In recent years the Senior Executive in charge of the S.A.F.E. Programme has attended an Exchange visit that was organized by Centrum Werk Gezondheid at A.T.S. Bergamo and following this, the Senior Executive together with members of the Prevention Team attended another exchange visit that she coordinated together with A.T.S. Bergamo. A very good collaboration was established with A.T.S. Bergamo and Dr. Moretti was invited to deliver a lecture during Sedqa’s S.A.F.E. Programme Appreciation Award Ceremony last November, whereby he shared his expertise regarding the Workplace Health Promotion Programme.

During 2019, an important milestone was that the Foundation for Social Welfare Services became a member with ENWHP.

The S.A.F.E. Programme looks forward to continue establishing networks in Malta and beyond so that it can learn from best practices abroad but it can also share the expertise that it has accumulated during the past years. After all, the S.A.F.E. Programme has been highlighted as a case study to be emulated by the European Working Conditions Observatory in its European-wide report regarding the ‘Use of alcohol and drugs at the Workplace’.

MS JOSIANNE AZZOPARDI – Senior Executive (Agenzija Sedqa Prevention Services)