In North Carolina, April is the state-declared Alcohol Awareness Month, promoting awareness of the dangers and diseases associated with alcohol misuse and abuse. Alcohol abuse in the workplace not only increases the possibility of on-the-job mistakes or accidents, but it can also lead to serious injury or death. Additionally, alcohol reduces productivity caused by a lack of concentration and coordination, negatively impacting business goals and profitability.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 14 million Americans (one in every 13 adults) abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. The costs to society in terms of lost productivity, health care costs, traffic accidents, and personal tragedies are staggering. Studies report the workplace costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse range from $33 billion to $68 billion per year.
In the workplace, absenteeism, accidents, and on-the-job injuries are far more prevalent among alcoholics and alcohol abusers. When the use or abuse of alcohol interferes with an employee’s ability to perform his or her duties, legitimate concerns arise for employers about work quality, health and safety, and conduct. What are some ways that employers can identify alcohol abuse in the workforce? Consider these potential indicators:
- Unexplained or unauthorized absences from work
- Frequent tardiness
- Excessive use of sick leave for prolonged periods
- Being absent from his or her workstation without explanation or permission for significant periods of time
- Missed deadlines
- Careless, sloppy work or incomplete assignments
- Production quotas not met
- Frequent excuses for missed or sloppy work
Relationships at Work
- Relationships with coworkers may become strained
- Belligerent or argumentative behavior
- The employee may become a “loner” in the workplace
Behavior at Work
- Smells of alcohol
- Staggering or unsteady gait
- Bloodshot eyes
- Mood and behavior changes
- Sleeping on duty
While these signs do not necessarily mean that an employee is abusing alcohol, these indicators coupled with performance or conduct problems may indicate alcohol abuse and warrant further investigation.
Many employers, especially those in the manufacturing or transportation sectors, have programs in place to randomly or periodically test employees for banned substances. Mercy Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine can help your company establish protocols for screening and testing (at random or post-accident) to help ensure a safer work environment for your employees. Mercy can even accommodate after-hours screenings and breath alcohol testing through its SCREEN 24/7 after-hours service.
To talk with a Mercy staff member about our screening protocols or to get your business set up for after-hours testing services contact us at (828) 274-6707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management