Safety issue revealed as 1 in 20 Australian workers admits to drinking at work

June 28, 2011

A national survey has found that more than one in twenty Australian workers report using alcohol while at work or just before work, and more than one in fifty report taking drugs during or just before work. These findings, published online today in the journal Addiction, have implications for workplace safety.

Researchers used data from the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS), which polled over 23,000 Australian residents aged 12 and over on their use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The resulting statistics showed that working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs was more likely to happen in the hospitality, construction, and financial services industries. Young, male, never married workers with no dependent children were likelier than other groups to under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Managers showed the highest prevalence of alcohol use at work, while tradespeople and unskilled workers were most likely to use drugs at work.

The most commonly used workplace drugs were and and methamphetamines (stimulants), followed by cannabis and ecstasy. But alcohol was by far the most popular intoxicating substance used at work.

The survey also revealed that a substantial portion of workers who use alcohol or drugs at work appear to underestimate their negative affect on . For example, only 17% of those who reported using alcohol at work also reported attending work while under the influence of alcohol, a discrepancy that suggests the respondents did not associate drinking at work with potentially dangerous impairment. Workplace showed a similar
discrepancy: they used drugs at work but did not think they were drug-impaired. The may be because some drinking and drug use occurs among co-workers after work but before leaving the workplace, in places like canteens, lunchrooms, and changing rooms. Says lead author Ken Pidd, "People may not think of a drink or a joint in the parking lot after work as a 'workplace' activity, but it does negatively affect workplace safety. Out of the 295 Australian workplace fatalities reported in 2006 and 2007, almost a third were caused by auto accidents while travelling to and from work. Showing up at work and leaving work while under the influence of alcohol or drugs may have a lot to do with those high numbers."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

One minute of running per day associated with better bone health in women

July 18, 2017
A single minute of exercise each day is linked to better bone health in women, new research shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.