Boss Lady

Dealing with alcohol issues at work parties


At this time of year, work parties are everywhere. And while the parties themselves are different they all have one common factor — alcohol (and the issues it can cause in the work environment).

Being a depressant drug, alcohol can slow down communication between the brain and the body. It can affect judgment, problem-solving skills, coordination, reaction times, and concentration. Essentially, alcohol affects the fitness of a person for work, their health, and overall wellbeing negatively on both long-term and short-term basis.

Short-term effects of alcohol

The short-term effects of alcohol can affect after one drinking occasion. In addition to affecting an individual, short-term negative effects of alcohol can harm customers, co-workers, family, friends, clients, and community members.

Whenever a person drinks alcohol, they expose themselves to the risk of accidents, injury, or inappropriate behavior. These risks can affect both the drinking person and those around them. If you are concerned that a colleague might be having alcohol problems, you can suggest they take advantage of free drug rehab

Here are some of the risks associated with the short-term effects of alcohol:

  • Increased chances of engaging in anti-social behavior.
  • Conflicts that can end up in violence and physical fights.
  • Injuries that may include road crashes, assaults, pedestrian injury, poisoning, burning, drowning, workplace injuries, and falls.
  • Unwanted or unprotected sexual encounters
  • Workplace injuries
  • Problems with family and friends

Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to a hangover which can affect the performance of an individual at work in the day that follows. Research has shown that alcohol hangover can last up to 24 hours. During this time, a person experiences symptoms like irritability, fatigue, concentration problems, nausea, shakiness, headache, and vomiting. These symptoms affect a person’s fitness, work attendance, relationship with other workers, and performance.

Long-term effects of alcohol

Consumption of alcohol can affect the health of an individual negatively on a long-term basis. When a person drinks alcohol regularly, their body can sustain serious damage that eventually leads to several health problems and alcohol-related illnesses.

In addition to the possibility of developing an addiction and requiring free alcohol rehab in the future, a person that drinks excessively can develop the following illnesses:

  • Liver disease
  • Cancer of the breast, bowel, mouth, liver, and throat
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Mental health problems

Workers groups at the highest risk

Alcohol use patterns vary across occupational groups and industries. Some occupational groups and industries have higher proportions of harmful or risky drinking patterns than others. Some of the factors that can influence this include the work nature, other employees, workplace culture, and work environment.

Some of the groups reporting a high likelihood of participating in risky drinking activities include:

  • Young workers between the age of 14 and 29 years
  • Male workers
  • Trans-persons, manual occupations, and low skilled employees.
  • Individuals working in the minding, hospitality, retail, construction, financial, and manufacturing sectors.

Workplace factors and workplace culture

Workplace culture includes factors like expectations, behaviors, and attitudes around drinking in environments that relate to work can influence alcohol use, as well as drinking patterns. It can also affect alcohol-related harm on health, safety, and overall workplace productivity. If the workplace culture is enabling, a person can end up with an addiction that will necessitate seeking free alcohol treatment in the future.

Workplace factors like workplace customs, practices, as well as working environments and conditions can increase an individual’s risk of alcohol consumption. It can also influence their drinking patterns including the following:

  • Isolation like when an employee works in an isolated area and away from friends and families. Such employees are likely to drink alcohol due to loneliness, boredom, or lacking social activities.
  • Extended work shifts or working hours.
  • Interpersonal factors like bullying, harassment, and workplace relationships.
  • Poor working environments like dangerous and hot conditions.
  • Inadequate supervision.
  • Organizational changes like a job transfer, redundancy, or restructure.
  • Inadequate job training and design, which can lower job satisfaction or cause work-related stress.

Alcohol and performance at work

Harmful drinking and alcohol use can affect workplaces adversely in several ways.

These include:

  • Safety- Drinking makes the work environment unsafe with accidents and risks that can lead to injuries or deaths, especially if an employee driving vehicle or operating machinery was under the influence of alcohol.
  • Workplace relationships- Drinking alcohol affects the relationships of an employee with co-workers, customers, and clients. That’s because alcohol can affect the behavior of an employee. For instance, an employee can act unprofessionally towards a customer or client under the influence of alcohol. A co-worker can also be resentful for always covering for an employee that is nursing hangovers.
  • Low productivity- Short-term absenteeism can lower productivity. And because alcohol affects decision-making, operations can be disrupted leading to low productivity.
  • Workplace economy- The long-term burdens related to alcohol can lead to employer liabilities and compensations. Loss of employees and skills, as well as costs relating to new employees’ training and replacement, can affect the economy of the workplace. In some cases, an alcoholic employee may not be lucky to get free help for alcoholics. Thus, the employer may be required to pay for their treatment.

Health responsibilities and occupational safety

It’s everybody’s responsibility to monitor the use of alcohol at the workplace and how it affects health, behavior, and safety at the workplace. All employees and employers have health and safety obligations and responsibilities when it comes to the workplace.

It’s the legal obligation of employers to respond to the use of alcohol and related harm at the workplace via the ‘duty of care’ as provided for in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1994). Employees, on the other hand, are responsible for taking reasonable care when it comes to their health and safety and not to endanger the health and safety of other people at the workplace.

Workplace Responses

Effective workplace responses are consistent with its occupational health and safety framework, as well as, the overall risk management approach. These responses should include different strategies whose target is the employees and the employees. They should also be tailored to suit unique workplace needs.

Such responses include:

  • Training and educational programs
  • Workplace health promotion
  • Work alcohol policy fitness
  • Access to treatment, support, and counseling services
  • Alcohol testing at the workplace

With such responses, it’s possible to minimize alcohol use at the workplace. Cases of alcoholism and the need for help from free rehab centers can be minimized among employees.

About Emma Howard'

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