Credit: Sky News

According to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Australian workers are significantly affected by their colleagues' alcohol drinking, at a considerable cost.

The study was performed to find out the extra expense put on Australian workers, when their colleagues cannot perform their work due to alcohol consumption.

The team of scientists had chosen a total of 1,677 Australian workers - 18 years and above- as paid or voluntary participants in their study.

As part of a bigger study centered on the dangers of alcohol, the research utilized computer-aided telephone interviews, held from October to middle of December in 2008.

The questions provided in the interviews were focused on the subject's assessment of their ability at work when their co-workers were unable to do their job due to alcohol-drinking. They had to inform if they had been in an accident at work, and if they had to work extra hours when their co-workers were drunk, within a 12-month period.

The results revealed that almost one-third of Australian workers have experienced negative effects from their colleagues' alcohol drinking and they reported having a colleague whom they considered to be a relatively heavy drinker or someone who drinks a lot sometimes.

A total of 3.5 per cent of workers reported having to work extra hours to cover for other and about 5.8 per cent of workers reported knowing of drinking co-workers.

The workers, who reported they had to work longer hours, all had to work extra hours 20.9 times within a one-year duration, or as reported, a little more than an extra week worked in the year, because of co-workers' alcohol drinking.

Based on the calculation of the hourly pay rate of workers who had to work extra hours due to drunken colleagues, which was at $23.80, an average cost of $1,933 per individual working extra hours was obtained.

Taking account of the whole Australian working population, the total annual population cost of extra work is estimated to be a staggering $453 million.