Alcohol, Drugs and Safety at Work

Human Resources

October is Safe Work Month - talk about the impact of alcohol and drugs in your workplace.

We’ve all made mistakes at work. Whether big or small, accidents happen. But with alcohol and drugs involved, they can happen more often; and can be much more serious.

The use of alcohol and drugs can impact workplaces in a number of ways, including affecting relationships, safety and productivity. Workplaces that are not prepared for alcohol and drug misuse are vulnerable to the social and financial costs associated with these issues.

Every year, up to 11% of workplace accidents are associated with alcohol. This is a worrying figure, but it isn’t necessarily shocking considering Australia’s drinking habits. More concerning is that employees took approximately 11 million sickies from alcohol and drugs in a 12 month period; can your company afford this?

Drinking is entrenched in Australian culture and can have a trickle-down effect from the home to the workplace. That’s why it’s important that workplaces protect themselves and their employees from the hangover of alcohol and drug misuse.

From little things, big things grow

There are two types of workplace accidents. Firstly, there are the small accidents that can derail a day, but are ultimately fixable. These accidents could include a wrongly sent email, a task which is completed incorrectly or a mistake made by someone taking on an unknown role. Small accidents can happen when workers are tired, hungover or absent from work. In a recent poll, around 40% of those surveyed admitted to going to work while still feeling the effects of their drinking the night before. They may seem minor, but as a collective these types of accidents can be costly to businesses and can develop in to more serious issues if left unresolved.

There are also the larger, more serious accidents. These accidents often result in injuries or fatalities and can occur when workers are under the effects or coming down from the use of alcohol or other drugs. The majority of serious workplace accidents involve a vehicle, with machinery operators and drivers the most at risk of death. Each work-related injury causes grief, stress and an average cost of approximately $116,000 to the worker, employer & community.

Take action today, start talking about how alcohol and drugs can impact workplace safety. Make sure you have an Alcohol and Drug Policy and educate your employees on the risks associated with alcohol and drug misuse.

Natasha Jager

National Manager, Workplace Services at