Alcohol and its consumption has a sizable impact on the Australian workforce. Employed Australians are more likely to drink alcohol than those who do not belong to the workforce.
In a study conducted by the National Alcohol and Drug and Knowledgebase (NADK), alcohol has been linked to a variety of negative outcomes at work.
Australian Alcohol Guidelines
According to current Australian Alcohol Guidelines, the risk of developing alcohol-related diseases increases when you consume three or more standard alcoholic drinks per day.
A standard drink contains 2.5 millilitres or 10 grams of alcohol. Furthermore, there is a short-term risk of alcohol-related injuries in individuals even from a single occasion of drinking. Consuming five alcoholic drinks on a single night increases a person’s risk of injuring himself or herself or getting into an accident that may injure others.
Alcohol and its Effects on the Workforce
Alcohol is the most widely available drug on the market. It is also perfectly legal, which makes controlling its consumption challenging.
Alcohol is a depressant that can affect concentration, problem-solving skills, and judgement.
Its long-term and short-term use can impact not only the drinker but also his or her surroundings. And never has the impact been more apparent than in the workplace.
An employee drinking alcohol can endanger co-workers, civilians, and customers and clients. Results of short-term drinking include antisocial behaviour, conflicts, sexual advances, and violence. Long-term effects include absenteeism, low productivity, and an overall unhealthy work environment. Long-term and short-term use of alcohol can lead to illness, accidents, and injuries.
Employees who drink alcohol are also vulnerable to long-term health risks. And alcohol-related diseases can increase a company’s healthcare costs. Because alcohol abuse can compromise an employee’s immune system, employers can expect more sick leaves and absences, and ultimately low productivity.
Long-term consumption of alcohol can also cause emotional difficulties such as depression, that can affect a person’s personal and professional relationships. Ultimately, alcohol creates a negative work environment.
The lost productivity due to alcohol and other drug abuse costs Australian employers $16 billion annually.
Which Are The Groups Most At Risk?
First of all, no profession or demographic is free of risk. But statistics do point to certain groups that are at higher risk than others.
Male Blue Collar Workers
Studies show that Australian male workers employed in blue-collar jobs (utilities, construction, and mining, etc…) are more prone to drinking alcohol at dangerous levels.
This is particularly worrying because accidents in blue-collar jobs endanger more lives than white-collar occupations that are restricted to the office.
For instance, an accident during construction not only endangers one employee but also your other employees. There are costs associated with workplace injuries and accidents such as Workers’ Compensation, and in severe cases, expensive lawsuits.
White Collar – Managers and CEOs
However, white-collar workers are not light drinkers themselves.
This is based on data collected between 2017 and 2018.
The increased consumption of alcohol may be related to stress at work and probably a lifestyle choice.
This relates to statistics that show the most affluent areas in our cities also tend to have the highest concentrations of cocaine use. Again, the drug is seen as a lifestyle choice.
Other Factors: Age and Gender
Furthermore, employees aged 25-29 years and 40-59, in particular, are the age groups more likely to increase their long-term risk of alcohol-related disease or injury. And male workers are also more likely to drink at dangerous levels compared to female workers.
Low risk professions
Other occupations such as charity workers, teachers, volunteers as well as students and retirees are less likely to engage in drinking at levels that endanger their health and safety.
Again, individual circumstances will always vary.
Drugs and Alcohol at YOUR Workplace
As an employer, it is your duty to provide a safe and healthy work environment for your employees.
Unfortunately, most employees are expert at hiding any substance/drinking habits that might be considered negative.
In fact, the only way to find out who among your employees has a substance abuse issue is via an appropriate drug and alcohol testing program at work.
Substance abuse is also a highly personal and sensitive topic. But you must address it and cover your business.
For a confidential conversation on how we can help you, give us a call.