How does drug and alcohol abuse affect workplace health and safety?

Drug and alcohol abuse can contribute to accidents and ill health at work. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are no figures on how many workplace accidents involve alcohol, but alcohol affects judgement and physical coordination. The charity Alcohol Concern estimates that up to one third of serious accidents are drink-related. In safety-sensitive jobs, drinking even small quantities of alcohol will increase the risk of an accident.

Drug and alcohol abuse can also affect co-workers' morale and productivity and damage the public image of a company. 

Drug and alcohol abuse can itself be a response to work-related stress which must be tackled. See the workSMART section on Stress.

Drugs which work as stimulants – even legal stimulants such as caffeine – can cause a problem, especially when they are relied upon to try to overcome excessive tiredness, instead of taking proper precautions (for example, when driving for work). 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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