Alcohol abuse is the number one drug abused by Americans. A drug-free workplace should include an alcohol free workplace. There are certain patterns and signs that may help a supervisor notice the signs of driver or a co-worker with a problem. There are four categories that help identify the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse.
Personal Appearance Problems: The personal appearance problem may be the most obvious to observe. The physical appearance is visibly off and different from what you normally observe from a co-worker. They may be dressed inappropriately or have wrinkled, unkempt appearance. The smell of alcohol may be lingering and the abuser may have trouble walking and may be seen staggering. Bloodshot eyes can also be a telltale sign of alcohol abuse.
Communication Problems: Change in communication may also be a sign of alcohol abuse. Slurred speech, inability to concentrate and anger may be signs that a co-worker is in trouble. There will be more conflicts amongst other employees with the suspected alcohol abuser and belligerent behavior will occur frequently.
Productivity Problems: Changes in appearance and communication may be obvious, but decreased productivity is harder to observe. To look for productivity issues, it is important to focus on and compare the past work ethic to the present. Slow work performance, missing deadlines and unusual tardiness may be signs. The alcohol abuser will become less and less reliable.
Judgment Problems: A loss of good judgement can also be a sign of an alcohol abuser. If the employee now needs an unusual amount of supervision in order to get a job done, there is clearly a problem. Evidence of covering up mistakes and bad decisions, or being unable to complete assignments on time may indicate a problem.
There may be other factors that cause the signs and symptoms noted above, such as family or marriage problems, but if an employee has these signs or symptoms a reasonable suspicion test may be used to rule alcohol out of the equation. The worst thing you can do is ignore this behavior and allow it to continue. Supervisors play a key role in workplace safety.