Safety impacts of alcohol and other drugs in the construction industry : a research methodology

Biggs, Herbert C. & Williamson, Amy (2012) Safety impacts of alcohol and other drugs in the construction industry : a research methodology. In Boustras, G. & Boukas, N. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Safety and Crisis Management in the Construction, Tourism and SMEs Sectors, Brown Walker Press, EUC Cultural Center, Nicosia, Cyprus, pp. 364-376.

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Anecdotal evidence from the infrastructure and building sectors highlights issues of drugs and alcohol and its association with safety risk on construction sites. Operating machinery and mobile equipment, proximity to live traffic together with congested sites, electrical equipment and operating at heights conspire to accentuate the potential adverse impact of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. While most Australian jurisdictions have identified this as a critical safety issue, information is limited regarding the prevalence of alcohol and other drugs in the workplace and there is limited evidential guidance regarding how to effectively and efficiently address such an issue. No known study has scientifically evaluated the relationship between the use of drugs and alcohol and safety impacts in construction, and there has been only limited adoption of nationally coordinated strategies, supported by employers and employees to render it socially unacceptable to arrive at a construction workplace with impaired judgement from drugs and alcohol. A nationally consistent collaborative approach across the construction workforce - involving employers and employees; clients; unions; contractors and sub-contractors is required to engender a cultural change in the construction workforce – in a similar manner to the on-going initiative in securing a cultural change to drink-driving in our society where peer intervention and support is encouraged. This study has four key objectives. Firstly, using the standard World Health Organisation AUDIT, a national qualitative and quantitative assessment of the use of drugs and alcohol will be carried out. This will build upon similar studies carried out in the Australian energy and mining sectors. Secondly, the development of an appropriate industry policy will adopt a non-punitive and rehabilitative approach developed in consultation with employers and employees across the infrastructure and building sectors, with the aim it be adopted nationally for adoption at the construction workplace. Thirdly, an industry-specific cultural change management program will be developed through a nationally collaborative approach to reducing the risk of impaired performance on construction sites and increasing workers’ commitment to drugs and alcohol safety. Finally, an implementation plan will be developed from data gathered from both managers and construction employees. Such an approach stands to benefit not only occupational health and safety, through a greater understanding of the safety impacts of alcohol and other drugs at work, but also alcohol and drug use as a wider community health issue. This paper will provide an overview of the background and significance of the study as well as outlining the proposed methodology that will be used to evaluate the safety impacts of alcohol and other drugs in the construction industry.

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ID Code: 35658
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Alcohol and other drugs, Construction, Occupational health and safety
ISBN: 978-1-61233-557-5
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (111705)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Industrial and Organisational Psychology (170107)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 17 Oct 2011 00:42
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 03:03

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