No Room for Alcohol Problems in the Construction Industry
Nobody can fail to be aware these days of the dangers of alcohol, especially drinking to excess. Most of us like the odd drink now and again, some of us like a pint most days and very few people are totally teetotal. Today we’re going to take a look at the effects of alcohol in the workplace. No, we’re not talking about drinking while we work, but about the very real risks involved in going to work either drunk or after a heavy session the night before.
A recent study carried out by Willis PMI Group revealed that the effects of alcohol in the workplace is a real problem that employers and employees would do well to take seriously. The research discovered that within the past year 37% of workers in the UK admit to going to work with a hangover that has affected their productivity. Younger employees are the worst offenders in this regard, with 50% of 18 – 34 year olds working with a hangover, 17% of whom say that this has happened at least 30 times in the past 12 months.
It’s not just hangovers at work that are a problem either, it’s estimated that alcohol related sick days cost employers in the UK a massive £1.7 billion annually! That’s a worrying enough issue without even considering the risks involved when it comes to workers’ ability to do their job whilst hungover. It can impair both skills and judgement, leading to greater risks, especially when the job requires the operation of vehicles or heavy machinery. The construction industry already has enough risks involve without poor judgement that comes from being hungover entering into the equation. Construction workers who are hungover put themselves, their colleagues and the general public at risk.
This means that businesses here in the UK, particularly in the construction sector, should take a close look at whether the use of alcohol is causing a problem to their employees’ health and, consequently, to their business productivity and ability to reduce risk wherever possible. The first step is to take a look at the HR records on productivity, accidents, disciplinary measures and sickness absence to gain a helpful insight into what’s happening.
When it comes to high risk industries like construction, screening and testing may be the best ways of identifying and controlling alcohol related incidents and address the issue before it presents a serious problem. Regular general employee health checks are a great method of flagging any developing health issues or sickness patterns and take some preventative measures before the problem gets worse (and more difficult to solve). These checks can be tailored to suit your resources and requirements but could include everything from ECG, cholesterol and blood pressure, lung and liver function, etc. that should result in an accurate view of the overall health of each employee. It’s also possible to carry out employee health risk assessments to get a clear overall picture of an employee’s lifestyle.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advocates that companies adopt a defined alcohol policy and perhaps offer advice and guidance on attitudes towards alcohol which could encourage employees to adopt a sensible attitude towards drinking.