Staff 'should be tested' for alcohol misuse in the workplace

Director of the Alcohol Health Network is calling for screening in the work place to identify 'risky' drinkers

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The Independent Online

Employees should be tested in the work place for signs of alcohol misuse, according to recommendations made in an article in a leading medical journal.

Staff should undergo a standardised test, such as the use of screening questionnaires to identify whether or not they are “risky” drinkers, according to the article published online by the British Medical Journal.

If problems were identified, employers could provide advice to help prevent harmful drinking at an earlier stage, Don Shenker, director and founder of the Alcohol Health Network, wrote.

Mr Shenker said that employers need to become convinced of the case for prevention rather than cure, adding that introducing such a measure could “prevent alcohol-related harm and sickness costs”.

“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,” he wrote.

“In this way, staff, who may be concerned about their drinking or whose level of drinking is not yet apparent to them, can assess the risks their drinking poses to their health and take appropriate action.

“Reducing hazardous drinking also reduces the risk of dependent drinking occurring.”

He added it was "ultimately more cost effective to prevent and reduce harmful drinking in the general working population" when compared with the costs of managing alcohol dependency among a minority of staff.

Additional reporting by Press Association