Consumption of alcohol decreases accuracy, and where attention and skill are required a blood alcohol concentration as low as 0.01 g/l will increase the number of errors. Relatively small doses of alcohol also increase reflex time and impair judgement, thus increasing the possibility of accidents. Although alcoholism is widely known as a cause of problems in the workplace, it is less well recognized that alcoholism is strongly related to stress produced by the workplace. Alcoholics identify far more unmet expectations in their environment than non-alcoholics.
In the USA it has been estimated that more than 2.5 million workers, namely 3% of the labour force, are alcoholics. The cost to industry in absenteeism, fringe benefits, loss of trained manpower, inefficiency, loss of production and accidents, is estimated to exceed US$ 2,000 million annually. In the UK, the cost to industry of alcohol-related sickness, absenteeism and deaths in 1987-8 was estimated at £800 million. While the cost of alcohol-related disabilities is very difficult to estimate, it is nevertheless clear that the costs which arise from its consumption by a fairly large proportion of the active population greatly exceed the returns which may result from alcohol in the form of employment, commercial profits and state taxes. The consumers ultimately pays for the cost of drugs in the workplace by buying inferior goods at higher prices.