Construction sites might not be as safe as you think! A recent Substance Abuse and Mental Wellness Services Management survey found the building and construction industry ranks high for substance abuse. The building and construction trades ranked second-highest for substance abuse disorder. This accounts for an incredible 14.3% of construction employees between 16-64. Construction workers also ranked second-highest for alcohol abuse. Although well-intended, the 25-year-old Drug-Free Workplace Act has failed as of late.
Today, Substance Abuse Disorders (SUDs) are causing increased safety and security concerns on the job site. Recreational legalization of Marijuana in many states contributes to on-site usage. Ready access to opioids and fentanyl increase risk of incident. Most businesses use drug screening but many do not continue after hiring.
Tom Jackson wrote a two-part story about this phenomenon in Tools World. He claims in the building sector it was common for 25-35% of pre-employment drug tests to ‘fail’, according to IMRI insurance and risk management. Even when employees know they’re going to undergo a drug test, 3-5% still test positive for drug use.
Jackson included prescription medications in his concerns. The Department of Labor states alcohol and drug abuse causes up to 65% of on-the-job accidents. Additionally, alcohol and drugs are responsible for up to 50% of work-comp claims. Employees abusing illegal substances are absent from work an average five days per month. They are 10 times more likely to steal from the company or other workers, use three times the average wellness advantages, and devour 300% the average medical costs.
Drug use isn’t the only concern. A 2014 investigative report in Devices Globe followed a WABC television team based out of New York City. They found a team of building and construction employees drinking during lunch breaks. This occurred at four different locations, on three separate occasions. Some workers observed were responsible for running cranes and other heavy machinery. Industry response was immediate. The construction company fired several of the employees. Across the industry, officials demand mandatory alcohol testing.
President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have declared war on opioid use in the United States. Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, testified before the US Senate Financial Committee. She worries about the rise in opioid deaths in the US, a developed nation, particularly among less-educated men. On opioid use, Fast Company recently released an article focusing on a powerful new drug: Fentanyl. The article demonstrated the damage Fentanyl causes across the United States even now.
Some may think that it’s too little and too late for the building and construction sectors. While we don’t agree, we think it’s time to address the safety concerns dedicated managers want. Stay ahead of substance abuse issues in the workplace to avoid liability and safety issues.
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