Drugs & alcohol in the construction industry

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Safety in construction industry

Aside from absenteeism, job turnover, interpersonal job issues, poor job performance and lost productivity, alcohol and other drug use on construction sites can be particularly dangerous. When affected by alcohol and other drugs on site, one risks on-the-job injuries or death as a result of impaired coordination,judgement, and/or the ability to see and respond to hazards. Recent studies in Australia have shown that a surge in alcohol-related absenteeism alone is estimated to cost $1.2 billion, while use of alcohol in combination with other drugs accounts for about $5.2 billion in lost productivity, injuries, and even deaths. These figures are both shocking and frightening. One of the most alarming findings is that alcohol-related workplace accidents cause 5% of Australia’s annual workplace deaths and over 11% of workplace-related injuries.

These numbers are slowly on the rise and this problem must be addressed quickly. The issue here is that drinking is closely associated with the construction industry since most workers start at 7am and finish at 3:30pm. This gives them a few hours free time,which is usually spent in a bar with co-workers. It’s part of a culture within the construction industry to have a few beers with workmates after work and maybe even go as far as having a few beers at lunch break during work hours.

Phillip Collins, Head of Workplace Services at the Australian Drug Foundation, says that these figures are quite staggering:

Best practice organisations recognise that these costs directly impact on their bottom line and that the drinking activities and drug use of an employee can affect work performance.

Phillip Collins, Head of Workplace Services at the Australian Drug Foundation

Sydney’s Foundation House is a 28-day drug, alcohol, and gambling rehabilitation treatment centre run by the Construction Industry Drug and Alcohol Foundation. Chief Executive Tony Papa says“lunchtime and after work drinks have long been an industry tradition, making risky drinking a major issue in construction.

As Perfect Hire, we regularly teach our workers about the risks and dangers of working under the influence of alcohol and drugs on construction sites. We include information about these risks and dangers in our company induction video and we encourage all of our staff to alert of us of anyone they suspect to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs on the work site. We always include a section about attending sites under the influence in our Toolbox Talks. All of Perfect Hire’s staff undergoes rigorous Alcohol and Drug testing every month, and we engage an independent testing company to randomly test all our construction workers. Perfect Hire Operations Manager Przemyslaw Franczuk adds, “we strive to ensure that all of our workers are Alcohol and Drug free so we can provide the most safest working environment for both our team members and our clients”.