Alcohol In Workplace – Effects And Preventions
04 September, 2023
Alcohol in workplaces is a prevalent issue that affects the safety and productivity of employees. The consumption of alcohol can lead to a range of negative effects, including body harm, accidents, and poor performance. Therefore, it is vital that employers and employees understand the potential consequences of alcohol misuse and take appropriate measures. To prevent alcohol-related incidents, employers implement alcohol testing to monitor impairment. This helps ensure the work environment is safe and healthy.
Many people consume alcohol in their free time. However, it can easily spill into the workplace. Employees drinking the night before can risk going to work the next day with alcohol in their system. Similarly, many workplaces prohibit alcohol consumption on the premises at all times. This article will explore the effects of alcohol use in the workplace, the preventive measures to mitigate its impact, and detection methods.
What Are The Dangers And Risks Of Alcohol in Workplace
The effects of alcohol in the workplace can be wide-ranging and damaging. It exposes everyone in the work site to dangers and safety risks. Firstly, alcohol impairs judgment and motor coordination. Thus, individuals have diminished control over their actions. It is critical if a person operates heavy machinery or a vehicle. Likewise, it affects decision-making and risk-taking behaviour.
Secondly, alcohol intoxication negatively impacts productivity and performance. Even small to moderate amounts of alcohol can decrease concentration and focus. Hence, it makes it difficult for employees to perform their tasks efficiently. This can result in missed deadlines and errors. It can also lead to increased absenteeism. This can hurt individual job performance as well as the overall efficiency of the organisation.
Lastly, accidents and injuries increase healthcare costs. Companies are responsible for keeping the workplace safe and hazard-free at all times. Hence, they are accountable for any untoward incidents that may happen. In addition, employers may face legal liabilities if they do not have existing policies or safety measures for reducing the risk factors.
Effects Of An Intoxicated Employee On Coworkers
- The presence of alcohol can create a hostile or uncomfortable environment for others.
- An intoxicated employee may exhibit altered behaviour, such as aggression or mood swings. This creates tension, strained relationships, or interpersonal problems.
- Conflicts with coworkers can disrupt teamwork. It can ruin trust and hinder effective communication.
- Conflicts with coworkers may lead to legal issues.
- Increased absenteeism may burden the workload of colleagues. In effect, coworkers may also feel frustrated.
- Increased absenteeism can leave a safety gap. This can put other employees at risk of injury or accidents.
- It can negatively impact team morale and workplace culture.
How To Prevent Consumption Of Alcohol In Workplace
Preventing the consumption of alcohol in the workplace is vital to managing its potential risks. It is also crucial for maintaining a professional environment. There are several ways that employers can mitigate the impacts of alcohol. Many companies establish a workplace policy to control the risk of harm due to alcohol use. High-risk workplaces implement zero tolerance for alcohol to protect employees from potential dangers.
A comprehensive policy outlines the rules and expectations regarding alcohol use. It includes the regulations regarding the possession or access to alcohol in the company premises during working hours. Additionally, it covers the methods of alcohol detection and the consequences of not following these rules.
Moreover, organisations may provide education and training to employees regarding the hazards of alcohol use. This helps empower workers to help them make informed decisions and seek help when needed. These programs promote employee accountability and responsibility. Finally, the development of the policy should be in consultation with employees and safety representatives to ensure its effectiveness.
Identifying Early Symptoms Of Intoxication
It is important for managers, supervisors, and staff to recognise the signs of alcohol intoxication or impairment. Early detection helps prevent further harm and injury. The common symptoms include red eyes or dilated pupils, slurred speech, poor balance, and uncoordinated movements. A person may stumble or have trouble understanding simple tasks.
Individuals under the influence of alcohol may also experience disorientation, confusion, or forgetfulness. Likewise, colleagues may notice a change in behaviour. Identifying these symptoms can also help determine if an employee may have alcohol abuse or addiction problems. Therefore, companies can offer treatment assistance or support for alcoholic employees.
How To Detect Alcohol In Workplace
There are simple but effective ways to detect alcohol in the workplace. Through an alcohol policy, companies can facilitate alcohol testing in various circumstances. Employers may conduct these tests randomly, after an accident, or with reasonable suspicion. The common alcohol test methods are breath, urine, saliva, and blood sampling.
A breath test is a procedure that can detect alcohol from the last 12 to 24 hours. It uses a breathalyser device to examine the breath sample and measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). The device can deliver the BAC results in 10 to 15 seconds. Therefore, it determines the current impairment level of a person.
Employers may also include alcohol in urine drug testing. Urine samples can trace alcohol or metabolites for up to 48 hours. Although less common, saliva tests can also detect alcohol in the system for up to 24 hours. Lastly, a blood test is the most accurate method. However, it is intrusive and costly. Employers may require a blood test if an employee has a positive result for alcohol or illegal drugs in an initial screening.
Advantages Of Using A Breathalyser
A breathalyser is a portable device that is easy to use. It provides a reliable measurement of a person’s BAC or alcohol level. Workplaces use pro-grade devices, like the SHIELD Express Identity, to ensure accurate results. Workplace breathalysers use fuel cell sensors that are specific to ethanol. Hence, it minimises the probability of false positives.
Another advantage of a breathalyser is that it is non-invasive. The sample collection is easy, requiring a person to blow to the device. Moreover, it does not require a licensed professional to administer the test of further laboratory testing. It provides immediate results, enabling employers to make informed decisions.
Alcohol in workplace presents several safety issues and risks. It impairs a person’s physical and mental ability, thereby affecting the performance of duties. This increases the risk of job accidents, injuries, and low productivity. Heavy alcohol consumption can also lead to alcohol abuse. To reduce the risks, organisations implement alcohol testing through a workplace policy. It aims to identify impaired workers and prevent further harm. They also conduct training to increase awareness and knowledge regarding the hazards of alcohol use.
Companies use several methods to detect alcohol. A standard procedure is breath testing through a portable device. The breathalyser measures BAC and gives the results in seconds. Therefore, it allows employers to know employees under the influence of alcohol. Individuals may face disciplinary actions if they violate safety rules or regulations. These methods can help give attention to alcohol problems and ensure the well-being and safety of employees.