Screen employees for alcohol, campaigner says

Screen employees for alcohol, campaigner says

Don Shenker, director of the Alcohol Health Network, said “standardised screening for alcohol misuse” could help employers detect signs of problem drinking in their staff at an earlier stage and save them money in the long run.

Self-assessment tests to identify alcohol abuse have proven “highly effective and cost efficient among NHS patients in primary and secondary care,” he added. In an article published on the British Medical Journal website, Mr Shenker said the “workplace culture of missing alcohol with off-duty relaxation … remains as strong as ever in the UK’s private and public sectors”.


Although socialising as a group can foster team spirit and lower stress among employees, a quarter of the British workforce is estimated to drink a dangerous amount. Alcohol can be held directly or indirectly responsible for 40 per cent of accidents in the workplace and 17 million lost days of work per year at a cost of £7.3bn, Mr Shenker said.


Studies conducted in Finland and Australia revealed a positive link between alcohol consumption and days of absence from work due to sickness among both men and women. While most companies ensure staff do not report for work while drunk, few take preventive measures to identify “risky” behaviour, which could prevent harmful drinking in the first place, he claimed.


"Reducing hazardous drinking also reduces the risk of dependent drinking occurring,” he explained. “Offering staff confidential use of the alcohol use disorders identification test and brief advice as a self-awareness initiative at work, whether through face to face interactions or leaflets, may well help prevent problems with alcohol at an earlier stage.”

By Nick Collins

The Telepgraph, 8th Novemeber, 2013


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