You should be concerned about the potential impacts of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, however, you can do something about it. Credit Michael Browning

Drugs and alcohol in the workplace

Are you an employer that’s concerned about your people using drugs and alcohol in the workplace? Are you an employee who is concerned about other people’s drug or alcohol habits, and what it could mean to your safety?

If you’re concerned about drugs and alcohol in the workplace, it’s possible you have every right to be. Because:

  • Five per cent of employees in Australia have admitted to coming to work under the influence at some point in their career.
  • It’s estimated that drugs and alcohol cost Australian workplaces around $5.2 billion a year.
  • Alcohol-related absenteeism alone costs Australian companies approximately $2 billion a year.
  • Alcohol use in the workplace contributes to more than 10 per cent of workplace accidents and injuries in Australia.
  • Around 1/3 of Australian employees have experienced negative impacts from a colleague’s use of alcohol.
  • Worldwide, it’s estimated that 15 per cent of workplace injuries are in part caused by drugs or alcohol.

Another issue with drug and alcohol use, and its relationship with the workplace, is that it can affect people not only while they are under the influence, but in the days following. Alcohol and drugs can cause hangovers, withdrawals and fatigue that can affect a person’s ability to concentrate, react quickly and make correct decisions. These can be dangerous effects when combined with work in a safety-focussed environment.

Alcohol, drugs and workplace safety

All of the above information is quite stark and serious, but the good news is that if you’re an employer, you can do something about providing a safe workplace that’s free of drug and alcohol issues. And if you’re an employee, you can support and contribute to your employer’s push for increased safety.

On the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website you will find an excellent page that looks at the issue of drugs and alcohol in the workplace and what can be done.

For example, employers can and should:

  • Have a detailed and robust policy that clearly establishes a policy around alcohol and other drugs in the workplace.
  • Educate employees about the dangers of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. This can include not just the potential impacts at work, but also the effects at home and on long-term health and wellbeing
  • Support should also be offered for employees who are having issues with drugs or alcohol.
  • If your workplace is safety-focussed, you should also implement drug and alcohol testing to ensure your people aren’t coming to work under the influence. Details about the testing that you will carry out, and potential actions must be included in your policy.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation also point out that your policy, education and support might need to look further than the traditional workplace. With more employees now working from home, it’s important to make sure that these people aren’t missing out.

“Whether your staff work in high-risk environments or in the comfort of their own home, understanding the risks and taking steps to ensure people are well supported can make a real difference to reducing alcohol and other drug related harms in Australia.”


You should be concerned about the potential impacts of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, however, you can do something about it. Credit Michael Browning

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Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Thomastown and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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