Alcohol and other drugs in the Australian construction industry : a pathway for safety focused cultural change

Biggs, Herbert C. & Williamson, Amy (2013) Alcohol and other drugs in the Australian construction industry : a pathway for safety focused cultural change. In Kajewski, Stephen L., Manley, Karen, & Hampson, Keith D. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 19th CIB World Building Congress, Brisbane 2013: Construction and Society, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.

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Background: Anecdotal evidence from the infrastructure and building sectors highlights issues of alcohol and other drugs (AODs) and its association with safety risk on construction sites. Currently, there is no clear evidence on the prevalence and risk of AOD use among Australian construction workers and there is limited evidential guidance regarding how to effectively address such an issue.

Aims: The current research aims to scientifically evaluate the use of AODs within the Australian construction industry in order to reduce the potential resulting safety and performance impacts and engender a cultural change in the workforce. A nationally consistent and collaborative approach across the workforce will be adopted.

Methods: A national assessment of the use of AODs was conducted in participating organisations across three states. The World Health Organisation’s Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) was used to measure alcohol use. Illicit drug use, ‘readiness to change’, impediments to reducing impairment, feasibility of proposed interventions, and employee attitudes and knowledge regarding AOD was also measured through a combination of survey items and interviews. Through an educative approach and consultation with employers, employees, union groups and leaders in applied AOD research, this assessment was used to inform and support cultural change management of AOD use in the industry.

Results: Results (n=494) indicate that as in the general population, a proportion of those sampled in the construction sector may be at risk of hazardous alcohol consumption. A total of 286 respondents (58%) scored above the cut-off cumulative score for risky or hazardous alcohol use. Other drug use was also identified as a major issue. Interview responses and input from all project partners is presented within a guiding principle framework for cultural change.

Conclusions: Results support the need for evidence-based, comprehensive and tailored responses in the workplace. This paper will discuss the final results in the context of facilitating cultural change in the construction industry.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 60166
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: alcohol, drugs, construction, safety cultural change
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 2013 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 22 May 2013 22:23
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2016 07:02

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