April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month is a nationwide campaign intended to raise awareness of the health and social problems that excessive alcohol consumption can cause for individuals, their families, and their communities.

The dangers of alcohol use and alcoholism in the workplace can be exponential. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –  in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.  In the workplace absenteeism is estimated to be 4 to 8 times greater among alcoholics and alcohol abusers.

As an employer, it is important to protect workplace safety and productivity by monitoring signs of potential alcohol use and alcoholism in the workplace.  However,  a supervisor should NOT to try and diagnose the problem, but simply be aware of signs that should trigger a need for professional help or referral to counseling.

The US Office of Personnel Management offers these tips to supervisors for monitoring potential signs of alcoholism in the workplace.

Be mindful of attendance issues.  This can include unexplained or unauthorized absences from work, frequent lateness, excessive use of sick leave, frequent unplanned days off after payday or near the weekend, and numerous emergencies that lead to absences (car trouble, legal problems, and family emergencies).

Pay attention to performance problems.  This can include frequent missed goals and deadlines, incomplete assignments, numerous errors and carelessness on projects.

Monitor interactions and communications with co-workers.  This can include unusual changes in behavior from becoming isolated, to being confrontational or aggressive.

Take note of workplace behavior.  Physical signs can include the smell of alcohol on the body or breath, staggering, bloodshot eyes, inappropriate social behavior like shouting or laughing excessively, avoidance of supervisory contact (especially after breaks), tremors or excessive sweating, and sleeping on the job.

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