3 out of 10 employees have taken drugs at work

Nearly a third of workers have admitted using drugs at work, and virtually every employee say they’ve been drunk in the workplace.

These are the incredible figures from a new survey carried out for Protecting.co.uk, which also found significant numbers of staff are “under the influence” every working day.

85% of workers admit to being drunk at work in the last year

2,600 workers in office, factory, retail and the public sector were surveyed, and findings included:

  • 28% admitted using drugs at work, including so-called ‘legal highs’, cannabis and other illegal narcotics
  • 85% admit to being drunk at work in the last year, not including the Christmas party
  • 31% admitted to being drunk at work, or having their capacity to work significantly diminished through alcohol, at least once per week
  • 14% of factory workers said they would drink alcohol at lunchtime, and then operate machinery in the afternoon
  • Of 40 people who listed their jobs as driver, none say they took drink or drugs at work
  • 5% of factory workers said they had used machinery after using drugs

“If you think that 5% sounds low, that’s one-in-twenty factory workers saying they operate potentially dangerous machinery with their reflexes and judgement impaired by booze,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall.

“That’s a frightening figure, and a recipe for serious injury or even death.”

The huge majority of those who admitted taking drugs at work think the practice “harmless”, and typically told us that “a bit of blow is no different from smoking a cigarette.”

Others stated it was, “To relieve the tension of working all day,” while others blamed boredom, simply telling us that “It helps the day go faster.”

Increase in use of drugs at work

Drug-taking at work is emerging as a growing factor in workplace accidents, with even ‘legal highs’ contributing to injuries, compensation claims and loss of production. It’s specifically rife in younger people, with 90% of those who admitted to using drugs being under 30 years old.

But it’s the lunch-time pint-or-three that remains one of the biggest causes of UK workplace accidents. At the very least, this results in lost production and customer complaints. In worse case scenarios, accidents caused by alcohol remain high, and can be cited as factors in numerous cases of injury or death.

Just one person on the shop floor or in the workshop incapable through alcohol puts everybody at risk.

“The worst thing is,” says Hall, “People under the influence of drink or drugs in the workplace also increase the risk of an accident as they put both themselves and their colleagues in danger.”

Protecting.co.uk says that bosses need to be clear with their employees that drug use and drunkenness is unacceptable in their organisation, and they need to be seen to be enforcing their policies.

“This doesn’t mean a stream of sackings,” adds Hall, “But that’s one of the options on the table. Business owners should also be able to offer assistance to problem drinkers and drug users and perfectly good workers should be helped back to an even keel.”

There’s nothing wrong with the odd drink at lunchtime. However, when performance is hit by drink or drugs, it’s down to the employer to step in before damage is done both for the companies sake and the employees health.

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