Work Place Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol use and abuse in the workplace can vary greatly by industry and setting. Drinking at work can potentially threaten public safety, impair judgment, reduce job performance, and can cause a multitude of other problems for employees, employers and their customers. Businesses lose well over $100 million in production due to alcohol use at work.
Different factors can contribute to the amount of alcohol abuse occurring on the job. Industries with higher rates of workplace consumption include the service industry, sales and hospitality as well as construction. Thankfully the lower rates are in areas such as transportation. The availability of alcohol in the workplace environment can make a big difference in how much is consumed, as well as employee supervision and accountability.
Workplace education programs can help prevent and reduce alcohol abuse problems on the job. Such initiatives are often spearheaded by the Department of Labor, Chambers of Commerce and non-profit organizations that provide alcohol- and drug-free workplace programs. The four main parts include having a substance abuse policy for work, annual education and training for employees and supervisors, substance abuse testing procedures in place and a plan of action when help is needed. Employee assistance providers often handle some or all parts of such an installation, which includes resources lists and referrals to alcohol abuse programs. Businesses that keep these guidelines in place become eligible for workers’ compensation discounts in many states, in addition to the money they save by preventing problems.
In addition to absenteeism being estimated to be 4 to 8 times greater among alcoholics and alcohol abusers, their family members also wind up missing more work due to related conditions. The greater risk to a business as well as employees and customers though is the fact of accidents and injuries caused by alcohol abuse. Workers either under the influence of alcohol or the following day after heavy drinking are not only more careless but less aware of what they are doing, and this can be extremely dangerous to themselves and others around them.
Employers that discover workers with alcohol abuse problems then have the issue of what to do with the employee. Choices often include anything from reprimand and a probationary status to revocation of functions and even termination. In many cases the employee is offered a period of time to handle the problem either by taking a leave of absence to enter a rehabilitation program or by attending outpatient counseling for their alcohol abuse.