Misuse of alcohol at work ‘on the increase’

Binge-drinking culture 'bad for business'

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The ‘booze and drugs’ culture in Britain is having an increasingly harmful effect on businesses and the workplace, a new report has claimed.

Around 17 million working days are lost in the UK each year through alcohol-related sickness, according to the ‘Guidance on alcohol and drug misuse in the workplace’ report by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in London. The report also found that 35% of people of working age had used an illicit drug.

The BUPA Foundation charity has reacted to the report by urging employers to act on signs of an increasing alcohol and drugs culture within their companies.

“The price to pay is high – absenteeism, accidents at work, poor performance, errors, lost productivity and long-term ill health,” said Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, vice-chairman of the BUPA Foundation.

Last week the charity honoured the authors of the report, which it says will help employers tackle the binge-drinking culture in the British workplace, with its annual ‘Health at Work’ award, worth £10,000.

According to the Chartered Institue of Personal Development (CIPD), binge-drinking costs UK employers around £6.4 billion per year and, as we move towards the ‘festive season’ the issue of alcohol abuse is likely to become more prevalent.

The Health and Safety Executive estimates that alcohol is to blaim for around 3-5% of all absences from work, and claims that contrary to popular belief, the majority of people who have a drinking problem are in work.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2006

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