9% of Oz employees drink at work

Sydney: The first study of drug and alcohol use in Australian workplaces has found that nearly one in 10 people usually drink while they are at work.

Many people mistakenly believed drinking at work would not damage their performance, said Ken Pidd, the deputy director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Adelaide’s Flinders University.

While Pidd’s study of more than 9800 workers found nearly 9 per cent of people said they “usually” used alcohol at work, only 5.6 per cent said they had been “under the influence”.

“Because they don’t think they are at .05 or are drunk … they don’t think it’s influencing their performance,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Dr Pidd as saying.

Dr Pidd said he was surprised by the level of alcohol use in the workplace but believed much of it could be put down to after-work drinks in the office.

“While that sounds pretty innocent the fact still remains that injuries and fatalities that occur while you are travelling to and from work are often still covered by insurance,” he said.

“I think it’s something that more and more workplaces are becoming aware of.

“For a long time workplaces have used alcohol as a morale and team building exercise but they are starting to realise they need to make sure they do so responsibly,” he added.

He said the study could have understated the use of alcohol and drugs at work because people who only used them occasionally rather than usually were not recorded.

Dr Pidd said the study found about 2 per cent of people admitted being under the influence of drugs other than alcohol at work and 1 per cent admitted usually using those drugs at work.

He will present his findings at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs conference in Tasmania.


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