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Employees

Alcohol, You and Work

How alcohol affects you is influenced by your age or gender, your reasons for drinking, how much you drink and your general physical and mental health. When and where you drink and who you are drinking with, all strongly influences how you are affected.

There are many reasons why people choose to drink alcohol, such as to relax, celebrate and to be sociable with family, friends and work colleagues. Some people also drink when they feel sad, bored or to help them cope with problems in their lives or at work.

As an employee, the industry and occupation in which you are employed, the workplace environment, workplace culture and working conditions can  influence your alcohol use and drinking patterns.

Some workplaces may have a culture that unintentionally supports alcohol consumption. Alcohol may be available at work-related events and functions, while socialising with co-workers around alcohol may form part of your working day or week. Some people might also drink to cope with otherwise intolerable work conditions.

While workplace environments and conditions vary from one workplace to another, research shows the following factors can also increase your risk of alcohol use:

  • isolation e.g. employees working in isolated areas who are separated from family and friends may be more likely to consume alcohol as a result of boredom, loneliness or lack of social activities, or social activities that only include drinking as the priority activity;
  • extended working hours or shift work;
  • interpersonal factors including workplace relationships, bullying and harassment;
  • poor working conditions including hot and dangerous environments;
  • inadequate supervision;
  • inadequate job design and training which may lead to low job satisfaction and/or work-related stress; and
  • organisational change e.g. restructure, job transfer or redundancy.

As an employee identifying the factors that may influence your alcohol consumption and your drinking patterns and understanding the effects that alcohol may have on your ‘fitness for work’ as well as the effect on your short-term and long-term health is important.

Drinking too much, even occasionally, can affect your health and well-being and cause problems for you at home, with your friends and at work. Research shows that the more you drink, the greater the risk of harm to your health and well-being. The Standard Drink Tool and Risk Assessment Tool can assist you in understanding what a standard drink is so that when you are drinking you can manage how much alcohol you consume and to identify if you could benefit from changing your current drinking patterns.

Harmful drinking is considered as drinking at levels that are likely to cause significant injury or ill health 1.

 

 
References

1 National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009). Australian Alcohol Guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia.