Drink and Drugs a Major Workplace Menace

Risk Management Header

Roughly one-third of workers admitted to using drugs while at work and nearly every worker admitted to having been drunk or hung-over at work in a recent survey conducted by Protecting.co.uk, a national health and safety consultancy.

This negligence and lack of pride in one’s work annually costs the UK economy millions of pounds in lost productivity. However, beyond lost revenue, this behaviour additionally increases health and safety risks.

Despite more than 50 per cent of workers admitting that they believed their bosses and colleagues were able to recognise a change in their performance due to alcohol, they still chose to imbibe. The two most common reasons for workers choosing to work while impaired were that it (drink and drugs) helped relieve the boredom of the day and it helped ease workplace tension. Yet these reasons do not excuse the repercussions, which include frequent tardiness and absenteeism, reduced concentration and focus, increased mistakes and clerical errors, and impaired judgement and abilities. Depending on the industry, these repercussions can lead to lost or misplaced revenue, injuries, accidents or even death.

If you believe or suspect that your workers—and thus your business—have alcohol or drug problems, follow these four steps to deal with the issue:

Step 1: Find out if there is a problem – Discuss with your workers the effects of alcohol consumption, any existing work-related stressors and any issues with productivity or accidents that you believe involved alcohol.

Step 2: Decide what to do – Review your business’ current alcohol policy and decide if it requires editing. Before any final decisions are made, consult with your workers and upper management to discuss their perspectives.

Step 3: Take action – With the support of upper management, organise a training session to explain any amendments to the policy, including alcohol screenings.

Step 4: Review what you have done – Regularly review your workers’ performance and absences to verify if the amended policy has been successful.