The impact of alcohol
By Ashleigh Petersen
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The impact of alcohol

Take 5 for Safety is a monthly article designed to give equipment and event rental stores the information they need to conduct a five-minute safety meeting on a particular topic. Below are talking points for this month’s meeting. The Take 5 for Safety signup sheet can be downloaded below. This can be used to take attendance during the meeting.

Introduction

Alcohol is the single most used and abused drug in America. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 14 million Americans — one in every 13 adults — abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.

Numerous studies and reports have been issued on the workplace costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, and they report costs that range from $33 billion to $68 billion per year. Alcohol is a major factor in injuries, both at home, at work and on the road. Nearly half of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol.

In the workplace, the costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse manifest themselves in many different ways. Absenteeism is estimated to be four to eight times greater among alcoholics and alcohol abusers. Other family members of alcoholics also have greater rates of absenteeism. Accidents and on-the-job injuries are far more prevalent among alcoholics and alcohol abusers.

Behavior to look for

The appearance of being inebriated or under the influence of alcohol might include:

  • The smell of alcohol
  • Staggering or an unsteady gait
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Smell of alcohol on the breath
  • Mood and behavior changes such as excessive laughter and inappropriate loud talk
  • Excessive use of mouthwash or breath mints
  • Avoidance of supervisory contact, especially after lunch
  • Tremors
  • Sleeping on duty

Not any one of these signs means that an employee is an alcoholic. However, when there are performance and conduct problems coupled with any number of these signs, it is time to speak up either with a supervisor or with the employee so they can get the help they need.

Review the company’s alcohol and drug policy.

Also, review any assistance that is available for employees with a drug or alcohol problem, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Member Assistance Program (MAP).

Seeking help

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) national helpline — 1-800-662-HELP (4357) — is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

— Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the associate editor for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

Other articles by Ashleigh Petersen
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