The Impact of RSA Training on Alcohol-Related Incidents

Discover how RSA training can reduce the risk of alcohol-related incidents.
December 30, 2023

As Australia gears up for New Year's Eve celebrations, responsible service of alcohol (RSA) becomes more pertinent than ever. In bars, restaurants, hotels and club venues across the nation, RSA training plays a vital role in reducing alcohol-related incidents during this busy period.

This blog will explain why RSA training is instrumental in creating safer drinking environments, against the backdrop of alcohol-related incidents that are now widespread throughout society.

The Prevalence of Alcohol-Related Issues

Before we explore the impact of RSA training, let's take a look at some sobering statistics that highlight the gravity of alcohol misuse and the crucial role alcohol servers play in mitigating risks:

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that more than one in four (26.8%) adults exceeded the Australian Adult Alcohol Guideline in 2022 (‘exceeding’ is defined as consuming more than 10 drinks in the last week or 5 or more drinks on any day at least monthly over the past year​).

The issue of excessive alcohol consumption is more pronounced among males, with 35.8% exceeding the guideline compared to 18.1% of females. Young adults aged 18–24 years show a particularly high rate, with over one in three (36.1%) exceeding the guideline.

Alcohol-Related Injuries

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, alcohol is a contributing factor in thousands of hospitalisations and fatalities each year. The nature of incidents ranges from physical injuries and accidents to anti-social behaviour and domestic disturbances. In the period 2019–20, there were 30,000 hospitalisations and almost 1,950 deaths attributed to alcohol-related injuries in Australia.

4 Reasons Why Responsible Alcohol Service Matters

1. Preventing Overconsumption

The responsible service of alcohol helps prevent overconsumption and intoxication, which can lead to physical harm (e.g. health issues, accidents, violence).

2. Preventing Underage Drinking

Responsible alcohol service also ensures that alcoholic beverages aren’t served to individuals under the age of 18, protecting them from the potentially damaging effects of alcohol.

3. Adhering to Laws and Regulations

By following RSA principles, businesses can avoid legal consequences such as fines, licence suspensions, or imprisonment.

4. Protecting Your Business Reputation

Alcohol-related incidents can seriously damage the reputation of a hospitality business. Responsible service wins the trust of consumers, ensuring that they remain loyal to your establishment.

Understanding RSA Training

Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training is a mandatory requirement for all individuals involved in the serving of alcoholic beverages in Australia. It equips them with the knowledge and skills to serve alcohol responsibly and to understand the legal obligations associated with alcohol service.

Although the enforcement of laws and regulations may vary slightly in each state or territory, the overarching requirement remains the same – RSA certification is essential.

RSA training provided by the Australian Institute of Food Safety (AIFS) encompasses a range of topics, including identifying and refusing service to intoxicated or underage patrons, understanding the effects of alcohol, and promoting a positive drinking environment.

The Behavioral Changes Promoted by RSA Training

Responsible alcohol service goes further than simply complying with the law; it ensures the safety and wellbeing of customers and the community as a whole. By advocating responsible drinking habits, licensed venues can help ensure that their guests enjoy themselves without jeopardising their own safety and that of those around them.

RSA training can support these efforts by fostering a culture of responsible alcohol consumption. Here are three key behavioural aspects that it aims to improve:

1. Identifying Intoxication

A primary focus of the RSA course is to develop your ability to spot early signs of intoxication to prevent further alcohol service to such individuals. Alcohol servers are trained to recognise the following indicators:

  • Unsteady movements
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Aggressive behaviour

Being able to identify these signs of intoxication quickly makes it easier to take proactive steps to protect the individual and those around them. This might involve refusing further service.

2. Effective Refusal of Service

Hospitality staff regularly encounter situations where refusing service is the only option available. Whether they’re dealing with an intoxicated patron or underage individual, a server must be able to recognise when it’s time to refuse service.

Knowing when to refuse service is one thing; being able to do it in an appropriate manner is something else. After all, refusing service doesn't have to be confrontational; a diplomatic yet firm decision can be made while also maintaining the best interests of everyone involved. The best strategy for refusing service is to remain professional and take a methodical approach based on techniques outlined in the RSA course.

RSA training empowers servers to minimise conflict by teaching them the fundamental elements of alcohol service legislation as well as effective communication and de-escalation techniques that can be utilised when dealing with intoxicated customers.

3. Promoting Safe Drinking Practices

The RSA course discusses several methods for promoting responsible drinking. This includes practices such as encouraging water intake and food consumption as well as highlighting safer transportation options.

  • Water intake: By encouraging them to drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages, servers can help patrons stay hydrated, mitigating the effects of alcohol.
  • Food consumption: Offering food not only provides an enjoyable experience but also slows the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.
  • Safer transportation: Taxi/ride-sharing services or designated driver programs play a critical role in preventing accidents related to drink driving.

The Benefits of RSA Training

The Australian Institute for Food Safety provides an extensive RSA training program that equips alcohol servers with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively execute responsible service practices and reduce alcohol-related incidents.

Topics covered by the RSA course include:

  • Legal compliance: Understand the legal responsibilities of alcohol service to avoid being penalised for infringement of RSA laws and regulations.
  • Risk assessment: Understand the risks associated with alcohol service, such as overconsumption and underage drinking.
  • Communication skills: Develop communication and conflict resolution skills to overcome challenging situations such as service refusal.
  • Refusal techniques: Understand when and how to refuse service.
  • Underage drinking: Discover techniques for identifying fake IDs and verifying a customer's age before serving them.
  • Intoxication levels: Learn how to use BAC charts to calculate a customer's intoxication levels and become aware of the relevant legal limits (e.g. drink driving laws).
  • Alcohol content knowledge: Understand the alcohol content of various beverages so that informed decisions can be made when serving customers that may already be inebriated.

Remember, as an alcohol server, your role goes beyond pouring drinks; you also have a moral and legal duty to ensure customer safety. RSA training is an essential step to fulfilling these responsibilities.

As we raise a glass to celebrate the start of a new year, be sure to reinforce your commitment to responsible alcohol service by registering with AIFS and taking the next step towards RSA certification.

Want to find out more before enrolling? Contact us and discover all the benefits of the RSA course.