Alcohol Harms Workplace Safety, Productivity

Two new studies provide evidence that alcohol harm is an economic problem. Alcohol harms workplace safety and productivity.

Economic harm due to lost productivity

A recent study by Willis PMI Group outlined the extent of the problem:

  • 37% of workers in Great Britain admit going to work with a hangover that has affected their productivity in the past year.
  • 50% of 18 to 34-year-olds admit to suffering a hangover that has affected productivity.
  • 17% say this has happened at least 30 times over the past year.

In addition to lost productivity due to alcohol use, alcohol-related sick days are estimated to cost employers around £1.7 billion.

Economic harm due to workplace safety issues

Not included in this figur is the impact alcohol use has on workers’ ability to do their job. If judgment and skills are impaired, this puts staff at greater risk, particularly in jobs that require the operation of vehicles or heavy machinery.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends putting a defined alcohol policy in place and this certainly represents a good starting point. Yet, the Willis PMI Group study showed that only 16% of all workers claim their employer offers them health advice around alcohol intake.

Case example: Construction workers

More than a third of construction workers have witnessed colleagues under the influence of alcohol and other drugs while on site, a new study shows. The survey was conducted by the Considerate Constructors Scheme:

  • 35% of the 1,300 construction workers surveyed had worked alongside people under the influence.
  • 59% raised concerns about the impact of alcohol and other drugs on the industry.
  • 25% said alcohol and other drugs had led to increased tiredness at work.
  • 19% stated alcohol or other drugs had affected their productivity.

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