What Can Employers Do? Alcohol and the Workplace

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Back in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) found that the workplace was ideally suited to address alcoholism through a focus on employee job performance and access to treatment.  NCADD founded the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) concept as a joint labor-management program.  NCADD wrote the first EAP Manual and the first EAP Standards.  The earliest programs were called Occupational Alcoholism Programs and later evolved into what are now called, EAP’s.

Work can be an important and effective place to address alcoholism and other drug issues and by establishing or promoting programs.  Without question, establishment of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is the most effective way to address alcohol and drug problems in the workplace, employees and their family members are provided referrals to community resources and services.  Many individuals and families face a host of difficulties closely associated with problem drinking, and these problems quite often spill into the workplace.  By encouraging and supporting treatment, employers can dramatically assist in reducing the negative impact of alcoholism in the workplace, while reducing their costs.

Research has demonstrated that alcohol treatment pays for itself in reduced healthcare costs that begin as soon as people begin treatment.  Alcohol treatment also improves an individual’s functioning, leading to increased productivity at work.

FACT:  Workplace-based, EAP programs have helped millions of individuals and family members effected by alcohol problems.

Some facts about alcohol in the workplace:
  • Workers with alcohol problems were 2.7 times more likely than workers without drinking problems to have injury-related absences.
  • A hospital emergency department study showed that 35 percent of patients with an occupational injury were at-risk drinkers.
  • Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in 16% of emergency room patients injured at work.
  • Analyses of workplace fatalities showed that at least 11% of the victims had been drinking.
  • Large federal surveys show that 24% of workers report drinking during the workday least once in the past year.
  • One-fifth of workers and managers across a wide range of industries and company sizes report that a coworker’s on- or off-the-job drinking jeopardized their own productivity and safety.
The above is an excerpt from the article “Alcohol and the Workplace.” For more info, please visit ncadd.org

Check for Leaks

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Gaps around doors and windows can be a major source of heat loss during winter, accounting for up to one-third of your total heating cost. Check for leaks to identify problem areas. On a windy day, turn off all air conditioning or heating and close all windows and doors. Turn on bath fans and stove vents and light an incense stick. Pass the stick along the edges of doors and windows. Notice where the smoke is either sucked toward or blown away from the door or window. This indicates an air leak.

This is above an excerpt from the article “How to Prepare My House for Extreme Cold Weather.” For more info, please visit www.ehow.com.

The Problem of Alcohol and the Workplace

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Out of millions who hold full time employment in the United States, close to fifteen million are heavy drinkers of alcohol, exacting a high cost on work organizations, as employees who drink a lot are often absent from work, suffer from a lot of health problems, and are at a greater risk of harming themselves and others.

In the workplace, the impact of alcoholism focuses on four major issues:

  • Premature death/fatal accidents
  • Injuries/accident rates
  • Absenteeism/extra sick leave
  • Loss of production

Additional problem areas can include:

  • Tardiness/sleeping on the job
  • Theft
  • Poor decision making
  • Loss of efficiency
  • Lower morale of co-workers
  • Increased likelihood of having trouble with co-workers/supervisors or tasks
  • Higher turnover
  • Training of new employees
  • Disciplinary procedures

While alcoholism can affect any industry and any organization, big or small, workplace alcoholism is especially prevalent in these particular industries:

  • Food service
  • Construction
  • Mining and Drilling
  • Excavation
  • Installation, maintenance and repair

Two specific kinds of drinking behavior significantly contribute to the level of work-performance problems:  drinking right before or during working hours (including drinking at lunch and at company functions), and heavy drinking the night before that causes hangovers during work the next day.

And it isn’t just alcoholics who can generate problems in the workplace.  Research has shown that the majority of alcohol-related work-performance problems are associated with nondependent drinkers who may occasionally drink too much — not exclusively by alcohol-dependent employees.  In addition, family members living with someone’s alcoholism also suffer significant job performance related problems- including poor job performance, lack of focus, absenteeism, increased health-related problems and use of health insurance.


The above is an excerpt from the article “Alcohol and the Workplace.” For more info, please visit ncadd.org

Prepare for Cold Weather: Wrap it Up

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Make sure your outer walls and attic have proper insulation. Loose fill or batt insulation is usually used in attics. Loose fill insulation provides better coverage and is typically less expensive. In exterior walls, blown-in insulation installed with the dense pack technique provides significant air sealing and can be installed in an existing home without a lot of disruption to finished areas. Batt or blanket insulation is a less expensive option you can install yourself, but it won’t provide the air seal of dense-pack blown-in insulation.

This is above an excerpt from the article “How to Prepare My House for Extreme Cold Weather.” For more info, please visit www.ehow.com.

Show Me the Science – When to Use Hand Sanitizer

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Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

a small magnifying glassWhy? Many studies have found that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers1,2.  Non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers may 1) not work equally well for all classes of germs (for example, Gram-positive vs. Gram-negative bacteria, Cryptosporidium, norovirus); 2) cause germs to develop resistance to the sanitizing agent; 3) merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright, or 4) be more likely to irritate skin than alcohol-based hand sanitizers .

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

a small magnifying glassWhy? Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly 1-10, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried 10. Furthermore, soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing or inactivating certain kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium,norovirus, and Clostridium difficile .

Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

a small magnifying glassWhy? Many studies show that hand sanitizers work well in clinical settings like hospitals, where hands come into contact with germs but generally are not heavily soiled or greasy.  Some data also show that hand sanitizers may work well against certain types of germs on slightly soiled hands . However, hands may become very greasy or soiled in community settings, such as after people handle food, play sports, work in the garden, or go camping or fishing. When hands are heavily soiled or greasy, hand sanitizers may not work well 1,4,5  Handwashing with soap and water is recommended in such circumstances.

The above is an excerpt from the article “Show Me the Science – When to Use Hand Sanitizer.” For more info, please visit www.cdc.gov

“Take 3” Actions To Fight The Flu

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The flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. 

CDC urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza (the flu): 

Step One

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

Take time to get a flu vaccine like this young boy from an older female nurse.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common. (See upcoming season’s Vaccine Virus Selection for this season’s vaccine composition.)
  • Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as the current season’s vaccines are available.
  • Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.

Step Two

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs like this mother teaching her young child to wash hands.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • See Everyday Preventive Actions[257 KB, 2 pages] and Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) for more information about actions – apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine – that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like influenza (flu).

Step 3

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them like this older woman listening to her doctor.

  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors[702 KB, 2 pages], treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
  • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
  • Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
The above is an excerpt from the article “CDC Says ‘Take 3’ Actions To Fight The Flu.” For more info, please visit www.cdc.gov

Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls in Restaurants

Employee exposure to wet floors or spills and clutter that can lead to slips/trips/falls and other possible injuries.

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Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Young workers are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.
Follow OSHA Standards including:

Provide warning signs
Provide warning signs
  • Keep all places of employment clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • Keep floors clean and dry. In addition to being a slip hazard, continually wet surfaces promote the growth of mold, fungi, and bacteria that can cause infections .
  • Keep aisles and passageways clear and in good repair, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard. For example, provide floor plugs for equipment, so power cords need not run across pathways.
  • Provide warning signs for wet floor areas. Accident Prevention Signs and Tags Standard.
  • Keep exits free from obstruction. Access to exits must remain clear of obstructions at all times Exit Routes, Emergency Action Plans, and Fire Prevention Plans.

Consider implementing recommended safe work practices, including:

Non-slip mat and shoes
Non-slip mat and shoes
  • Do provide adequate lighting.
  • Do repair any uneven floor surfaces. Relay or stretch carpets that bulge or have become bunched to prevent tripping hazards.
  • Do use no-skid waxes and surfaces coated with grit to create non-slip surfaces in slippery areas or use non-slip mats.
  • Do promote a shoe policy program that provides for appropriate work shoes for employees. Shoe policy programs require workers or employers to purchase non-slip footwear for work use.
  • Do make aisles and passageways sufficiently wide for easy movement and keep clear at all times.
The above is an excerpt from the article “Slips / Trips / Falls.” For more info, please visit www.osha.gov

You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

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  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
The above is an excerpt from the article “You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure.” For more info, please visit www.cdc.gov

Using Technology to Stay Competitive

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As a business owner, it is vital that you understand and use advanced technologies. Technology can help increase business efficiency and even expand operations.

Accounting software. This is important, even if you have your own accountant or bookkeeper. Accounting software allows you to see your profits and losses at a glance. It can also help you design and maintain a budget for your business.

Planning software or tools. A calendar system is a must. There are many online planning systems that can be utilized to help you keep your calendar organized. Find a system that meets your business’ needs and be sure to stick with it.

Time tracking software.  A time tracking device will help you determine what tasks result in a profit and what tasks do not. This will help you determine what tasks can be eliminated, outsourced, or improved.  If you’re looking at software that requires a fee, ask for a free trial first to make sure it’s the right software for you.

Email management. As a business owner, you probably use several email accounts to manage the various aspects of your company. If you streamline these emails to one account, you’ll be able to stay organized and abreast of your emails.

Mobile internet access. Access to the internet on your mobile device will not only make your life easier, it will also help you maintain a positive reputation for your business. For example, if you are able to follow up with a client by email immediately after a meeting, you will be showing that you are accessible, timely and professional.

Once you decide which types of technology are right for you and your business, you’ll be on your way to being more organized and efficient than ever.

The above is a video from the article “Using Technology to Stay Competitive”. For more information, please visit http://www.sba.gov.

Know Your Concussion ABCs

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A—Assess the situation
B—Be alert for signs and symptoms
C—Contact a health care professional

Concussions don’t only happen to athletes on the playing field. 

Kids at a playgroundAny one of your students could take a spill, knock his/her head, and get a concussion in any number of school settings ranging from the hallway, the playground, the cafeteria, and beyond.

That’s why—whether you’re a principal, school nurse, teacher or other school professional—the CDC and several other distinguished medical, educational, school-health and school-professional organizations encourage you to use the Heads Up to Schools: Know Your Concussion ABCs materials.

This flexible set of materials, developed for professionals working with grades K-12, will help you identify and respond to concussions in an array of school settings.

The above is an excerpt from the article “Heads Up to Schools: Know Your Concussion ABCs.” For more info, please visit www.cdc.gov