Date PostedSeptember 5, 2013

Tips for enforcing RSA Rules

It is important that employees within the hospitality industry involved with serving alcohol are well aware of their responsibilities in terms of Responsible Service of Alcohol, not only to avoid fines, potential job loss and alcohol fuelled incidents but also to ensure that they are not contributing to problematic alcohol consumption in NSW – an issue which authorities are batting to bring under control in the state.

RSA Staff, it is your duty to ensure when selling or serving alcohol in a licenced venue anywhere in NSW to first obtain a RSA certificate.

Although most patrons will consume alcohol in a responsible manner there are an increasing number of people who drink to hazardous levels and this has an effect on them and their environment, this is what RSA laws are aimed to guard against.

Some of the problems associated with drinking in excess and binge drinking include negative health consequences, alcohol induced crime, brawls and fights as well as the breakdown of the family unit. For this reason servers need to serve alcohol in a manner that is responsible in order to minimise these harmful effects on the customer, the community and the venue. RSA training basically helps reduce harm to staff and patrons when alcohol is being served.

One of the concepts fundamental to responsible service of alcohol is that servers know how much alcohol they are serving customers.

What are the basic steps to serving alcohol responsibly?

  1. Discourage intoxication by refusing alcohol to customers who display intoxication.
  2. Promote non-alcoholic beverages and food. Encourage workers to alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or a non-alcoholic drink.
  3. Promote safe transport alternatives. Have a telephone in the venue where customers can call for transport.
  4. Market responsible drinking behaviour among patrons.
  5. Train staff and ensure they are in possession of their RSA certificate. A copy of the certificate should be kept on the premises in the event of inspectors visiting.
  6. Maintain adequate staff numbers in order to be able to enforce RSA rules. When staff are pressurised and overworked they are less likely to pay attention to how much alcohol they are serving.
  7. Ensure that there are written policies and procedures for staff that are enforced.

Although refusing alcohol to customers should be the last resort in the RSA enforcement, staff of licenced venues should not be afraid to cut someone off if they are displaying unacceptable behaviour or obvious signs of intoxication.

How to Gradually Cut a Person’s alcohol off

RSA Staff should start by gradually reducing service to a customer. You could also suggest food or low alcohol alternatives. Also warn the patron that their level of intoxication is getting to an unacceptable level.

Try not to come across as aggressive or judgemental. This only makes the already intoxicated patron more aggravated and the situation may get out of control.

Remain calm even if the customer is irate. Offer to assist them by calling a friend or taxi on their behalf. Also suggest non-alcoholic beverages as alternatives.

The best way to learn about your responsibilities while fulfilling a mandatory legal requirement for work in the hospitality sector is to complete the Online RSA Course and obtain the certificate. Topics covered by the course which are invaluable in your work in a licenced venue include Australian legislation, alcohol harm and consequences, fines and punishment under RSA law as well as many others.


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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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