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1 in 10 workers absent or affected by drugs at work

A poll conducted by the Australian Drug Foundation has found that 10% of Victorian employees had either taken a day off and/or gone to work feeling the effects of their drug use.

In a large sample of Victorian workers, drugs were identified as illegal drugs, synthetic drugs and un-prescribed pharmaceutical medications.

The Australian Drug Foundation’s Head of Workplace Services, Phillip Collins, said weekend drug use can have a major impact on workplace productivity, performance, absenteeism and office health and safety.

“Feeling the after effects of weekend drug use can be just as problematic as being intoxicated on the job. Headaches, blurred vision, irritability, difficulty concentrating and extreme tiredness can all create organisational problems.

“Drugs and alcohol cost Australian businesses $6 billion a year in lost productivity and absenteeism alone. Then there’s the serious health and safety risks in the workplace, particularly where employees operate machinery or drive vehicles.”

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia, with the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey finding that more than 20 per cent of 18-29 year olds had used cannabis in the last 12 months.

Mr Collins said that many workplaces are now looking to drug testing as a solution to ensure workers aren’t under the influence of drugs while at work – but he warns that employers should be wary.

“Drug testing isn’t the only solution, and simply will not work when delivered in isolation. All businesses need a formal workplace policy in conjunction with education, training and support programs.”

The Australian Drug Foundation’s poll surveyed 1000 Victorian employees and was funded by the Myra Stoicesco Charitable Fund.

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AMSJ April 2022