Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace

Having a drink or two is no longer something that should be taken lightly when at work. Unlike drugs, alcohol is not something that is universally condemned so it is easy in Europe for drinking to be hidden, not acknowledged, or not confronted when suspected. If workers continue to drink while at work, there could be serious consequences that can affect not just the company’s image but the safety of the workers impacted by their poor choices.

According to LPM Insider, 5%-20% of workers in Europe are involved with drinking at the workplace that goes beyond normal social and health standards. Jobs that have irregular hours, high stress environments, and repetitive work end up being the type of jobs where drinking occurs. Working in construction, bar workers, shop, drivers, and forklift truck operatives are the most at-risk industries. 76% of Europeans consume alcohol at work or during their break. 24% of British workers have four drinks a day. In Belgium, workers are given beer and wine during their shift and 40% of Irish construction workers have reported to feeling drunk at work.

In January 2016, the chief medical officer in the UK looked at the harmful impact of alcohol for the first time in twenty years and recognized that there was no safe level of alcohol consumption for your health. The problem is that because the British saw drinking as the major source of having a good time, the country was considered the “nanny state” for trying to take that away. Alcohol consumption in the workplace causes sick leave, reduced performance, short-term absenteeism, company or brand image problems, colleague or customer conflicts, and damage to equipment and products.

Luckily, there is a charity in the UK called Aquarius that deals with alcohol education in the workplace. Their research shows that alcoholism is a disease and has costed the UK £7.3 billion a year from alcohol sickness and loss of productivity. Aquarius works with companies to give workplace strategies to workers to help them overcome these issues. They have discovered that a lot of businesses do not have a formal process in identifying those who have consumed alcohol. Because of the human resource issues that can occur, many businesses do not do random drug tests even though nine thousand workplace deaths have occurred from alcohol use in the UK. Alcohol is not worth losing your job or your life.

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