Workplace Production Line
Employees work along a production line in Suzhou Etron Electronics Co. Ltd's factory in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, June 8, 2010. Reuters/Aly Song

A range of experts recently came together in the Allianz workers compensation seminar to reveal the impact of drug and alcohol use in the workplace of Australian businesses. The seminar heard that the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace cost billions of dollars to different businesses in the nation.

During the seminar, the experts shared how alcohol and drug use reduces productivity, increases absenteeism and results in workplace injuries and accidents. According to statistics furnished by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), drug and alcohol use leads to a loss of around $5.2 billion in terms of productivity and $3 billion in absenteeism.

Evidence provided by Dr Ken Pidd, Deputy Direct (Research) at NCETA, suggests that more than 90 percent of the Australian workforce drinks alcohol and among them, nearly 15 percent drinks at an alarming level at least once a week. Pidd revealed that 5.6 percent of the workforce in the country admits working under the influence of alcohol and 2 percent under the influence of drugs.

The NCETA official further said that the workplace is the platform where an ideal intervention can be established to deal with the issue of alcohol and drug use. Since a majority of the alcohol users are employed, effective measures can be taken by the organizations to take appropriate steps within the time frame that an employee spends at the workplace.

A number of pilot programs implemented by NCETA at the Australian workplace seem to have reduced the risky alcohol consumption behaviours. Some of these programs include training, employee wellbeing initiatives, raising awareness and referral support services.

A study published in the journal Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health earlier revealed that drug and alcohol absenteeism costs more than $3 billion to the national economy since Australians seem to take a day off for an estimated 11.5 million days in a year.

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