Alcohol and drug use among construction workers: Which drugs and which workers?

Janine Chapman, Ann Roche, Ken Pidd, Brooke Ledner, Jim Finnane

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Abstract:Background:Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use places a substantial burden on health and social systems. Most people who drink or use drugs are employed and the workplace is an important setting for prevention efforts, particularly in high-risk industries such as construction. This paper presents the baseline findings from a longitudinal controlled trial to evaluate aworkplace alcohol and drug harm reduction program in the construction industry, delivered as part of a wider ‘fit-for-work’ approach. Methods:Construction workers (N=511) were recruited from sites across the Sydney metropolitan area. Participants completed anonymous surveys assessing AOD consumption and attitudes towards AOD-related risk. Analyses were conducted to determine the extent and nature of AOD use by age group and compared with national data.Results:72% of the sample were hazardous drinkers, with the ≤24 and 45-54 age groups most at risk (p<.01). Use of painkillers(37%), cannabis(21%), methamphetamine(6%) and cocaine(23%) over the past year were significantly higher than the general population. Youngworkers were at highest risk from cocaine and cannabis use (p<.01) and were less likely to believe that AOD use posed a risk to workplace safety. Conclusion:Construction remains a high-risk industry for AOD harm. Young workers’ alcohol use is increasingly overshadowed by other drugs and use by older workers, including painkillers. High levels of cocaine use, in contrast to the recent methamphetamine focus, warrants attention. Multi-component workplace interventions, involving culture change, education, and policy have potential to reach a substantial proportion of the working population and ameliorate risk of AOD-related harm.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPublic Health Association, Australia
    Subtitle of host publicationCelebrating 50 Years, poised to meet the challenges of the next 50
    Place of PublicationSouth Australia
    PublisherPublic Health Association of Australia
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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