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Discuss the Scientific Evidence relating to the assertion that Alcohol and Drugs misuse in the Workplace contributes to a major threat to Safety and Productivity

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Joanna Garibaldinos - 2117411 PSY 2333 - Occupational Health Psychology Dr Andrew Guppy Trent Park Discuss the Scientific Evidence relating to the assertion that Alcohol and Drugs misuse in the Workplace contributes to a major threat to Safety and Productivity Introduction It can be argued that the issue of alcohol and drugs misuse within the workplace is a very serious problem. Not least because of the various problems that can arise from substance misuse. In Guppy's and Marsden's report (2002) of Alcohol and Drugs within the workplace a distinction is made between different patterns of substance use and the consequences. An example of this would be a car accident caused or exacerbated by drink driving. These patterns consist of misuse, abuse, and dependency of alcohol and drugs. A similar pattern of theses factors also emerges with prescribed drugs. However, for illicit drugs, some would argue that there can be no legitimate non-medical use and therefore all use without prescription counts as misuse (American Medical Association 1987). The use of alcohol and drugs is a common occurrence amongst working adults and in most cultures around the world. The most available drugs that have been associated with health problems are alcohol and tobacco. However, there are more powerful prescription drugs that are also associated with health problems such as morphine. ...read more.


This causes individuals to drink excessively and in most cases, the consequences result in some degree of alcoholism and/or ill-health. Bandura and Lazarus (1988) suggested that psychosocial cues could be used to cope with alcohol misuse, when other responses are difficult to measure and expectations are high. Risk Assessment and Control The 1970 employee assistance programme (E.A.P.) was developed to ensure that sufferers received full support and assistance allowing examinations to be conducted on a regular basis, ensuring the health and safety of employees. The five-step risk assessment report gives five stages of what to do in the case of a suffering employee. These stages are: i) Look for hazards. ii) Decide who may be harmed and how. iii) Evaluate the risks and decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done. iv) Record the findings. v) Review the assessment. Risks control in the workplace means managers are able to detect a problem, provide counselling to employees and monitor the level of drugs and alcohol in their system through a series of tests. Criticisms It can be argued that there is rarely enough information to differentiate between the patterns of alcohol and drugs misuse. Also, there is no information concerning the impairment of work functions that might have occurred in relation to drug use. ...read more.


Consumption of alcohol and drugs is a lifestyle choice in that in most cases it does not correlate with stress at work or depression. Consumption occurs as a result of various social relationships or non work-related habits. This would not be a problem if employees were devoid of any influence of alcohol and drugs when they entered the workplace, but since the after-effects of taking drugs and drinking alcohol take time to subside, then it does become a problem for employers. It can also be argued that what employees get up to in their own time is none of the employers business, but whilst this argument stands up in relation to employees being 100% on form in the workplace, the same cannot be said of employees who come to work still physically and mentally impaired as a result of taking drugs or drinking alcohol to excess. In this situation, the employer has a right to know and/or a duty to take relevant action i.e. some kind of verbal warning. Alcohol and drugs misuse in the workplace is a problem, but provided certain steps are taken, the threat to productivity and safety at work will decrease, and whilst employers have no place in advising individuals on their social lives, it is well within their jurisdiction to approach individuals who appear physically or mentally impaired, provided the aim is to understand the problem and resolve the situation satisfactorily. ...read more.

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