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Facts & Figures

Supplier: LaneWorkSafe

Alcohol and other drugs abuse is one of the most serious health problems affecting employers today. The cost to Australian industry is between $13.7 billion and $30 billion per annum through accidents, lost productivity, staff turnover, low morale and related problems. (Parliament of Australia : Parliamentary Library Research Brief No. 7 2004/05 (Haine and John) Current research from America (2002 National survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) sourced from US Department of Labor) indicate that 70% of persons aged 12 years or older using illicit drugs either are employed part or full time. When the effects of alcohol abuse are added, the result is a large, impaired portion of the national workforce. For the typical employer, this may mean unhealthy and at risk, employees, unsafe work conditions, loss of productivity, smaller profits, more accidents, theft and fraud, high staff turnover, high WorkCover premiums and a host of other negative effects for the employer and the employee.

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Facts & Figures

In workplaces across the country employers are looking at practical ways to address alcohol and other drugs abuse. Employers want to meet the health needs of their employees and control WorkCover premiums. Most importantly, employers are asking for clear, simple steps for planning effective drug-free workplace programs.

LaneWorkSafe are specialists in providing this comprehensive service.

There is no place for alcohol or other drugs in the workplace.

  • The National Drug Survey showed that 39.3% of the population had tried cannabis; 8.7% amphetamines; 10% hallucinogens; 2.2% heroin and 3.9% inhalants. Illegal drugs were used most often by people in the 20-34 year age range.
  • The National Drug Strategy Survey found over 91% of people oppose proposals to legalise the personal use of heroin, amphetamines and cocaine.
  • According to the Drug Use Monitoring Australia (DUMA) survey there is a very strong link between opiate use and property crimes. The survey found very high levels of illicit drug use among people who are detained in police lock-ups for driving offences, crimes of violence and disorder offences.
  • In each area sampled in the DUMA survey, three quarters of detainees had urine samples which tested positive to one or more illicit drugs.
    In the DUMA survey, 70% of males detained for a violent offence tested positive to an illicit drug; 86% of males detained for a property offence tested positive to an illicit drug - half of them to opiates.
  • Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit drug and is part of 67% of all drug-related offences.
  • The use and availability of amphetamine-type substances continues to increase in Australia. After cannabis, they are the most frequently used illicit drug. Ecstasy is the most frequently used amphetamine.
  • According to the Australian Illicit Drug Report, and despite the best efforts of police, the war against drugs is failing, with only a small percentage of heroin being seized. It also points out that other drugs - cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines - are also freely available, particularly in Sydney.
  • In the 1980s, 34,000 people were addicted to heroin, most in their late 20s and 30s; heroin was expensive, 10% pure, hard to find and usually injected; there were few rehabilitation programs. In 2000, there were 74,000 addicts and up to 300,000 casual users.
  • Several studies conducted by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research have found a 'strong' relationship between frequent cannabis use by young people and criminal offences.

Data Sources
A large proportion of the data mentioned below was sourced from 1998 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDHSHS) managed by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare. This was a comprehensive national survey of more than 10,000 Australians aged 14 years and older. Additional data was obtained from the 1995 NDSHS and the 1993 and 1991 National Campaign Against Drug Abuse Surveys.

Alcohol consumption in Australia
Studies have suggested that :

  • 1.5 million Australians consumed alcohol daily, 6.5 million on a weekly basis and a further 5.6 million on a less than weekly basis (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2002).
  • In 1998, Australians consumed 7.6 litres of pure alcohol per person.
  • On a per person basis in 2000, Australians consumed 95 litres of beer (9th in the world), 19.7 litres of wine (18th in the world), and 1.3 litres of spirits (34th in the world).

Other Facts and Figures
Studies have suggested that :

  • Organised crime costs 4% of gross domestic product, or $1,000 a year to each Australian. (Australian Institute of Criminology Research and Public Policy document series No. 22)
  • 6.7 tonnes of heroin is consumed per year in Australia (See above)
  • 16 Australians die every week because of illegal drugs (Working Paper No. 81 Kathryn Heiler - University of Sydney 2002)
  • About 80% of those in prison are there for drug-related offences
  • Seizure of drugs fails to capture about 90% of the drugs coming into the country
  • The law has little effect on drug use. There is no significant difference in cannabis use between Australian States where it is a criminal offence and States and Territories where it is decriminalised
  • 7 out of 10 illegal drug arrests are of drug users

Alcohol and other Drug(s) abusers are:

  • 3.6 times more likely to be involved in accidents
  • 5 times more likely to file workers compensation claims
  • 3 times more likely to be late for work
  • 2.4 times more likely to require early dismissal
  • 2.5 times more likely to use excessive sick leave entitlements (8 days or more)
    Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that half a million people experience a work related injury or illness every year and more than 15 serious injuries occur every hour.

There are estimates that more than 2,000 Australians lose their lives in workplace accidents or through work related disease each year. This terrible statistic means Australia's death toll from work is higher than the national road toll which stands at less than 1700 deaths a year, which is more than five deaths per day. It is not intended to infer that these deaths are all related to drug or alcohol abuse. However, it could be agreed that these deaths are a concern to each and every fair minded Australian.

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