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Alcohol Abuse In The Workplace

Apr 23, 2018 6:30:00 AM

Alcohol Abuse In The Workplace - BlogAlcohol use among employees or their family members can be an expensive problem for business and industry. Alcohol abuse is linked to issues such as lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft, low employee morale, legal liabilities, and increases in healthcare and workers' compensation costs.

Workplace statistics are sobering:

  • Workers with alcohol problems are 2.7 times more likely than workers without drinking problems to have injury-related absences.
  • An emergency department study showed 35 percent of patients with an occupational injury were at-risk drinkers.
  • Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16% of emergency room patients injured at work.
  • Analyses of workplace fatalities showed at least 11% of the victims had been drinking.
  • Large federal surveys show that 24% of workers report drinking during the workday at least once in the past year.
  • One-fifth of workers and managers across a wide range of industries and company sizes report that a coworker’s on- or off-the-job drinking jeopardized their own productivity and safety.

Non-dependent Drinkers

It isn’t just alcoholics who can generate problems in the workplace. Research shows most alcohol related work performance problems are associated with non-dependent drinkers who may occasionally drink too much and arrive at work with a hangover or get a DUI.

DUIs not only effect an employee, but they also take a toll on the employer. One of the most immediate consequences of a DUI conviction is the employee dealing with a driver's license suspension or revocation. For individuals who are required to drive in a professional capacity, this situation could be career ending.

As An Employer, What Can You Do?

Work can be an important and effective place to address alcoholism by establishing or promoting programs focused on improving health. Many individuals and families face a host of difficulties closely associated with problem drinking. Those problems often spill over into the workplace. By encouraging and supporting treatment, employers can dramatically assist in reducing the negative impact of alcoholism and addiction in the workplace, while reducing their costs.

Without question, establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs are work-based intervention programs designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems. They are a highly effective way to address alcohol in the workplace – providing help for:

  • Short-term counseling, assessment, and referral of employees with alcohol and drug abuse problems.
  • Emotional and mental health problems.
  • Marital and family problems.
  • Financial problems.
  • Dependent care concerns.
  • Other personal problems that can affect the employee’s work.

Research has demonstrated that alcohol treatment pays for itself in reduced healthcare costs that start as soon as people begin recovery. Employers with successful EAP’s report improvements in morale and productivity and a decrease in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft. Longstanding programs also report better health status among employees and family members and decreased use of medical benefits by these same groups.

Unfortunately, alcohol can have a negative effect on the workplace. It is important not to sweep the problem under the rug. There are ways to address the issue and provide help for employees.

Topics: Risk Management

Written by Gibson

Gibson is a firm of advisors and consultants that help clients get to the proactive side of insurance. We specialize in working with companies looking to find their edge—where they are growing as an organization, differentiating themselves in the marketplace, and preparing for current and future risk. Together we will find the perfect combination of insurance and consulting.