Intoxicated workers: findings from a national Australian survey


Ken Pidd, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University, GPO Box 2001, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia. E-mail:


Aims  To identify prevalence of alcohol and drug use and intoxication at work.

Participants  A total of 9828 Australian workers ≥14 years old.

Setting  Australia 2007.

Measurements  Work-place alcohol use and drug use, intoxication at work, industry and occupation of employment.

Design  Secondary analysis of a large nationally representative survey involving descriptive and weighted multivariate logistic regressions.

Findings  Differential patterns were identified by drug type, worker characteristics and occupational setting, controlling for demographic variables. Nearly 9% of workers surveyed (8.7%) usually drank alcohol at work and 0.9% usually used drugs at work. Attending work under the influence of alcohol was more prevalent (5.6%) than attending work under the influence of drugs (2.0%), and significantly more likely among young, male, never married workers with no dependent children. Hospitality industry workers were 3.5 times more likely than other workers to drink alcohol and two to three times more likely to use drugs at work or attend work under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Other high-risk industries and occupations included construction, financial services, tradespersons and unskilled workers.

Conclusion  More than one in 20 Australian workers admit to having worked under the influence of alcohol and almost one in 50 report attending work under the influence of psychoactive drugs. The rates are higher for some industries, such as the hospitality industry, than others.