Drinking on the job common practice
ALMOST one in 10 Australian workers admit they usually drink alcohol at their job, while fewer than one in 100 say they usually use drugs at their workplace.
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.
They found alcohol use was “widespread” in the workplace and most likely to occur higher up the management chain, while tradespeople and unskilled workers were more likely to use drugs at work.
“Nearly one in 10 (8.7%) reported usually drinking at work [and] 0.9% reported usually using drugs at work,” said the authors, from the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction at Flinders University, Adelaide.
“Alcohol use at work is widespread, in contrast to the relatively low prevalence of drug use.”
The study found 5.6% of workers reported attending work under the influence of alcohol, and 2% reported attending work under the influence of a drug.
Among workers reporting routine use, around 17% of alcohol users and nearly 50% of drug users admitted to working “under the influence”, a disparity attributed to workers either using minimal amounts or downplaying the intoxicating effects.
The most commonly used workplace drugs were painkillers, amphetamines and methamphetamines, followed by cannabis and ecstasy.
Young, male, never-married workers with no dependent children were more likely than other groups to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Managers were the occupational group with the highest proportion of workers who usually used alcohol at work,” the authors said.
“This finding stands in stark contrast to the growth of workplace drug testing which targets illicit drugs and the virtual neglect of alcohol use as a workplace hazard.”
Addiction 2011, online 27 June