Intoxicated workers: findings from a national Australian survey

Addiction. 2011 Sep;106(9):1623-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03462.x. Epub 2011 Jun 28.


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

Participants: A total of 9,828 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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology*
  • Analgesics
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Demography
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Organizational Culture
  • Safety*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Workplace / psychology
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics
  • Illicit Drugs