Drugs danger for SA firms

2010-04-29 07:36

Cape Town - Alcohol and drug abuse is widespread among all levels of South African employees and, according to experts, can prove costly for employers in terms of productivity.

 

Prime Cure Wellness general manager James Gregory says alcohol abuse alone costs South African businesses an estimated more than R9bn a year.

 

The SA Association of Social Workers in Private Practice reckons that about half of the accidents in the work environment are related to alcohol and drug abuse.

 

Research by the Medical Research Council shows that South Africans consume five billion litres of alcohol a year. In certain communities more than 30% of the men and up to 15% of the women each consume more than 30 litres of alcohol every year.

 

For employers, alcohol and drug abuse means that productivity and performance decline while absenteeism rises. Those abusing alcohol will, according to Gregory, also be more inclined to become involved in criminal activities like theft and fraud, and to display aggressive behaviour towards colleagues.

 

In terms of the Labour Act employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers in the work environment.

 

Dr Terry Berelowitz, the medical director of Occupational Care South Africa, says that if a worker under the influence of alcohol threatens the safety of his work environment, from a safety perspective he should immediately be sent home.

 

But an employer cannot summarily dismiss a person; the correct procedures have to be followed.

 

In terms of the act employers have to investigate the situation if a worker becomes unfit as a result of alcohol or drug abuse. Then counselling and rehabilitation have to be considered to support the person. Still, repeated offences can lead to dismissal.

 

According to Berelowitz, drug abuse is starting to outpace alcohol abuse. He says that in the past alcohol has been the biggest problem – and it is easy to see if someone has had too much to drink.

 

With drugs it is more difficult, because employers and human resources divisions are not as familiar with the symptoms of drug abuse as they are with alcohol abuse. Drug abusers therefore often slip through the net.

 

- Sake24.com

 

For business news in Afrikaans, go to <a href=http://www.sake24.com>Sake24.com</a>.

Read more on:    drug abuse

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