Drinking costs firms dear

Despite the massive cost of alcohol-related illness to business most are
failing to tackle the problem

Alcohol-related illnesses are costing British businesses £2bn a year, yet 43
per cent of firms do not have a workplace alcohol and drugs policy in place, a
report has suggested.

The research by the London Chamber of Commerce also estimated that 14
million working days are being lost through alcohol-related illnesses, while 25
per cent of workplace accidents are related to alcohol.

Of particular concern was the increasing numbers of women developing drink
problems, said the LCC.

Piers Merchant, director of campaigns at the LCC, said firms needed to
devise properly thought-out policies on how to tackle the problem.

"As part of their overall approach, some companies might consider
measures such as a complete ban on drinking during working hours or random
alcohol or drugs tests," he said.

The LCC report also found that workplace problems often resulted from staff
getting drunk or taking drugs outside office hours. Workers were more likely to
admit to a drink problem if they felt it would be dealt with as a health

One in eight workers feared a random alcohol test would put them over the
limit. People with substance abuse problems were between two and eight times
more likely to be absent from work for more than a week than other workers,
said Merchant.

Kevin Cairns, OH adviser manager at Marks & Spencer and a member of the
steering committee of the Nursing Council on Alcohol, agreed disciplining
workers with drink problems was not the answer.

"OH has a vital part to play in early intervention even if it is just
for five minutes. But it needs to be treated as a health issue, not as a
disciplinary one."



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