15th Jan, 2022 Read time 2 minutes

The dangers of alcohol abuse in the workplace

This month on the HSE Network we are covering workplace violence and the impact that it can have on health and safety policies at different companies and places of work. Workplace violence can come in many different forms, making it difficult to define an approach for the management of risks as a whole. 

This is why it is essential to have a tailored policy that works for your specific needs as an organisation. This week we take a look at alcohol abuse in the workplace, and the dangers that can be brought to the workplace. 


Poor efficiency in the workplace

Poor efficiency at work is not necessarily a health and safety issue directly, however, if other employees are having to pick up the slack of the employee in question it could lead to burnout and hazardous citations if the work requires intense concentration to be performed safely, like the operation of heavy machinery. 

If an employee or worker is abusing alcohol at the workplace or not turning up fit to work it could lead to an increased risk of arguments and confrontations in the workplace which could lead to a greater risk of workplace violence occurring. 


Increased risk of workplace violence 

An increased risk of workplace violence may well occur if one or more employees are abusing alcohol while at work. This puts all workers and stakeholders in the organisation at risk and should be a central concern when it comes to managing workers with a health, safety and wellbeing context. 


Poorer decision making 

Poorer quality decision making is a potentially dangerous effect of alcohol abuse in the workplace. If a worker is making poorer quality decisions at work, if they are safety-critical this puts others in direct danger but even if they are not it can lead to other employees being disgruntled with the worker in question. 


How to deal with alcohol abuse in the workplace

Getting to the root cause of workplace violence with employees can be difficult but it must be done to try and mitigate the potentially damaging impact on others in the workplace who may be being put at an increased risk of workplace violence. 

Pre-employment drug testing can help nip issues in the bud before workers have been brought into the workplace however this will not assist those who may have turned to alcohol since starting the job. 

Drawing the line between abuse and social drinking can be difficult, however, you should do your best to monitor situations that could lead to workers drinking more. If the work is inherently stressful it may be necessary to address this, and if you are worried workers are more likely to engage in workplace violence following alcohol abuse you should act and have in place the necessary safeguards. 

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