Alcohol in the Workplace

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Alex Olson April 2013 Alcohol in the Workplace Its not a question whether alcohol has been a part of society. However, the question of how alcohol is affecting society is of concern. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 16,000 people died in 2010 due to alcohol induced liver disease and over 25,000 deaths occurred with alcohol being a factor. The topic of alcohol is not ignored, but people are still influenced to participate despite the known risks. Alcohol is a part of many different aspects in our daily lives, but this paper is going to mainly focus on what role it plays in relation to the workplace. In the research-based book, Alcohol at Work, the authors explain the presence and use of alcohol in the European Union and voyages through different topics relating to dealing with alcohol abuse in the workplace. Topics from the book that will be analyzed are the following: the problem with alcohol, alcohol policies in the workplace, and workplace testing. 1. The Problem with Alcohol Book Summary: Alcohol both directly and indirectly affects communities and the workplace. Different cultures, regions, and people consume different amounts of alcohol for different reasons. This book specifically studied the amount of alcohol consumption in the European Union and distinguished relationships between alcohol-related indicators like liver cirrhosis, accidents and murder, suicide, coronary heart disease. According to the book, about 4.2% of males and 2.1% of females die from alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis and, as expected, there is a clear link between

drink-driving and automobile accidents. In addition, there are correlations between alcohol and the amount of absenteeism, accidents in the workplace, and financial costs. For example, alcohol limits a person’s ability to function normally when on the job. The book references North American agricultural accidents and the positive correlation with it being induced by alcohol. Even though there are limitations to the data that is presented, there are still correlations that are of concern for employers. Analysis: Alcohol is a huge part of society, but the health effects are often overlooked. In addition, some people are often oblivious to the notion that alcohol could adversely affect their lives in reference to health, work, and personal lives. In particular, alcohol affects a person’s ability to work proficiently. It comes at no surprise that heavy drinkers are more likely to be sick and have worse intra-workplace relationships (Ames, Grube, and Moore, 1997, p. 37-47 as cited in NIAAA). Employees who have these behaviors are less likely to perform their job well and employers are likely not going to hire people with a history of alcohol abuse in the workplace. People who abuse alcohol may not only be affected in the workplace, but also their personal life and potentially their future. 2. Alcohol Policies in the Workplace Book Summary: This section focuses on the need to enact a policy regarding employee use of alcohol but it does not solely focus on one group of people. The workplace is not only affected by the people who abuse alcohol, but problems can also arise from people who are not dependent on alcohol. This is supported by Goplerud:

It’s often assumed that people with alcoholism cause the majority of workplace problems related to alcohol. However, there are nearly 100 million light and moderate drinkers in the workforce...and their drinking patterns can also result in...tardiness, absenteeism, or poor performance. (Groplerud, 2005, p. 3 in Tobutt, 2011, p. 61) People too often think about the extremists and are willing to believe that their contribution to the alcohol problems is not as significant. However, people are still participating in the problem and that is why it is necessary to create alcohol policies in the workplace. There is no clear line to draw when it comes to alcohol in the workplace but it is necessary to make sure employees...
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