Keeping Employees Safe During Office Parties

The holidays are here, and many businesses may have their plans for celebrating the season, and continuing the party up through the Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl.

But before the corks are popped on the champagne and you dig into the sugary holiday cookies, candies and other goodies, it’s best for employers to consider how social gatherings could impact the safety and health of their workforce and the liabilities that may be incurred.

According to a study from Caron Treatment Centers, an increase in sick days is reported during the holiday season, often from overindulging in alcohol at an office party. The holidays also seem to bring out increases in binge drinking, drunken driving, sexual harassment and other inappropriate workplace behavior, all of which can put employee safety and health at risk.

Employers may want to take steps to ensure workplace social gatherings remain safe, such as reminding employees to conduct themselves professionally and refrain from inappropriate behavior, to avoid an accident, sick day usage or disciplinary measures.

The risk of alcohol use
The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, asked 2,005 adults ages 21 and older about their alcohol use during office parties and how it impacted their later performance. According to the study, the day after a holiday party resulted in:

  • 46% being ill while at work
  •  64% using a sick day
  • 61% not showing up to work on time or leaving early
  • 46% having trouble finishing their tasks
  • 54% coming into work, but being mentally “checked out”

Limiting alcohol at your holiday party may be a way for employers to prevent sick day use and uncompleted work.

Additionally, employees’ health may be harmed from excessive alcohol consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking puts the person at risk of alcohol poisoning and liver disease. It also increases the chance of injuries.

According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use boosts a person’s chance of unintentional injuries, such as falling or being involved in a car crash, as well as intentional injuries inflicted upon another person, such as sexual assault.

In fact, the Caron study found 59% of respondents have seen co-workers become aggressive, and 57% know people who have driven home under the influence.

While employers may anticipate a decrease in productivity after an office party, employees who show up to work hung-over or mentally impaired may put themselves and others at risk of an injury. In fact, workers who operate machinery may be unable to remain aware of their surroundings and cause an accident.


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