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EWA European Workplace and Alcohol

Second Health Programme (2011–2013)
Coordinator – Department of Health of the Government of Catalonia

“European Workplace and Alcohol – EWA”, which officially began on the 1st of January 2011 is implemented under the program “2009 Public Health” of the European Directorate-General for Health and Consumer. Coordinator of the program is the agency GENCAT from Spain (Department of Health of the Government of Catalonia), while the consortium comprises of 17 universities and organizations from various European countries.

The general objective of the program is the development of effective methods of engaging with workplaces, and their workforces, to raise awareness and bring about organizational and individual change that lead to safer alcohol consumption, and thus a reduction in alcohol-related absenteeism, presenteeism and injuries. This will be achieved through the development and dissemination of a practical and robust cross-cultural tool-kit able to support the delivery of workplace-based interventions that will bring about safer alcohol consumption amongst the European workforce.

Based on recent European studies, it is estimated that productivity losses contributed 47% of the total €125bn social cost of alcohol to Europe. There is also clear evidence that detrimental drinking patterns increased the risk of absenteeism, with frequent high risk drinkers being as much as 22 times more likely to report alcohol-related absenteeism. Harmful alcohol use and episodic heavy drinking also increase the risk presenteeism, including arriving to work late and leaving work early or disciplinary suspension, resulting in loss of productivity; turnover due to premature death; disciplinary problems or low productivity from the use of alcohol; inappropriate behaviour (such as behaviour resulting in disciplinary procedures); theft and other crime; and poor co-worker relations and low company morale. Despite the structural relationships between the work environment and the risk of alcohol use disorders, surprisingly few intervention studies have investigated the impact of changing work structures on reducing workplace alcohol-related harm, with brief advice programs, and programs attempting to change workplace attitudes toward on-the-job substance use in addition to training workers to recognize and intervene with co-workers who have a problem being the most promising. There is, thus, an enormous potential for the better development and implementation of workplace policies and actions that improve wellness at work and lessen the impact of alcohol on health and productivity at the
workplace, as well as reducing the wider social costs due to alcohol.

Among the planned activities are the following:
– to evidence existing good practice in workplace-based methods of raising awareness and changing behaviour to reduce alcohol-related harm
– to engage in workplaces and pilot-test innovative, evidence-based alcohol-focused interventions
– to prepare and disseminate a tool kit and policy recommendations for better work place practice to reduce alcohol-related harm.
– to organize a European conference with invited stakeholders from European institutions and countries to launch findings of project, as well as national dissemination event in each partner country as well as Greece.


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