Research

Construction workers’ alcohol use, knowledge, perceptions of risk and workplace norms

Drug and Alcohol review

Introduction and Aims
Globally, there is growing concern regarding workers’ alcohol use and its implications for health, wellbeing and workplace safety. Male-dominated industries are more susceptible to risky alcohol consumption and its associated harms. This paper investigated the patterns, prevalence and predictors of risky drinking among construction workers.

Design and Methods
Male construction workers (n = 511) completed a survey measuring alcohol-related measures including Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test – Concise (AUDIT-C), which was compared with population data. Hierarchical multiple regression examined alcohol-related knowledge, perception of risk to workplace safety, psychological distress, job stress, general health, quality of life and workplace alcohol culture variables as predictors of risky drinking.

Results
Prevalence of risky drinking was higher than the national average, particularly for younger (<25 years) and mid-aged (45–-54 years) workers. One in six construction workers reported workmates being visibly affected by alcohol in the workplace. Key predictors of risky drinking were perception of alcohol-related risks to workplace safety, general health, alcohol knowledge and descriptive norms regarding workmates’ alcohol use.

Discussion and Conclusions
These findings provide useful insights into the patterns and predictors of risky drinking in construction and can inform future preventive programs and interventions in high-risk workplaces. In addition to tailoring programs to both young and mid-aged workers, this work highlights the importance of implementing strategies to increase awareness of risks to workplace safety; and the adoption of norms that inhibit the social acceptability of risky drinking behaviour in the wider workplace.

Roche, A., Chapman, J., Duraisingam, V., Phillips, B., Finnane, J., Pidd, K. (2020). Construction workers’ alcohol use, knowledge, perceptions of risk and workplace norms. Drug & Alcohol Review. 39(7):941-949.

Working at heights: patterns and predictors of illicit drug use in construction workers

Drugs – Education, prevention and policy

Introduction
Employee drug use poses a serious risk to health and safety in male-dominated industries yet patterns and determinants of drug use in construction are not well understood. This study assessed prevalence rates and predictors of Australian construction workers’ use of cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine. Workers (N¼511) completed a survey that assessed use of the three drug types; alcohol use; general health and mental health; job stress and the workplace cultural norms for each drug. Hierarchical binary logistic regressions examined predictors. Use of each drug over the past 12months was two–five times higher than the national averages. Higher alcohol consumption was a consistent predictor across drug types and younger age and poorer general health were predictive of cannabis and cocaine use. Higher psychological distress was associated only with cannabis use. Workplace availability, descriptive and injunctive norms were significant predictors of cocaine use. The findings highlight concerning patterns of drug use in construction, particularly high levels of cocaine, with serious implications. The influence of cocaine workplace availability and norms highlight the importance of the workplace culture. Multi-component approaches involving culture change and individual-level responses that target vulnerable workers are required to minimize risk from drug-related harm.

Conclusion
This study provides unique insight into the prevalence and predictors of drug use in a sample of Australian construction workers, with broader implications for the development and implementation of workplace strategies to respond to health and safety-related harms in the workplace. Findings indicated that construction remains a high-risk industry for AOD-related harm, with high levels of cocaine. Norms and availability of cocaine in the workplace were associated with use in the past 12 months, demonstrating the important influence of social and cultural context on worker drug use. Multi-component approaches, involving culture change, education and policy responses have potential to reach a substantial proportion of vulnerable workers and minimise risk from drug related harm.

Chapman, J., Roche, A.M., Duraisingam, V., Phillips, B., Finnane, J., & Pidd, K. (2020). Working at heights: Patterns and predictors of illicit drug use in construction workers. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy. doi: 10.1080/09687637.2020.1743645 [Epub ahead of print]

Exploring the relationship between psychological distress and likelihood of help seeking in construction workers: The role of talking to workmates and knowing how to get help.

Work – A journal of prevention, assessment and Rehabilitation

Background
Mental health problems are prevalent in male-dominated industries such as construction, where suicide rates are higher than the population average and help-seeking is typically low.

Objective
To examine psychological distress in Australian construction workers and its relationship with help seeking via two hypothesised mediators: confidence in knowing how to get help and confidence in talking to workmates about mental health issues.

Methods
Workers (N=511) completed a survey that assessed psychological distress, likelihood of help seeking, and confidence in knowing how to get help and talking to workmates. Bootstrapped multiple mediation analysis was performed using the PROCESS macro for SPSS.

Results
Psychological distress was higher than national estimates and most prevalent in men aged 25-44. Controlling for age and ability to recognise personal signs of mental health problems, psychological distress negatively predicted likelihood of help seeking. This relationship was partially mediated by knowing how to get help and confidence in talking to workmates.

Conclusions
Results highlight the need to redress and mitigate mental health problems among high-risk groups of male workers. It provides useful guidance on multilevel workplace strategies to reduce stigma, enhance confidence and comfort in the process of seeking help and support in construction and other male-dominated industries.

Chapman, J., Roche, A., Duraisingam, V., Ledner, B., Finnane, J., Pidd., K. (2020). Exploring the relationship between psychological distress and likelihood of help seeking in construction workers: The role of talking to workmates and knowing how to get help. Work, 67(1): 47-54.

Flying below the radar: Psychoactive drug use among young male construction workers in Sydney, Australia

Work – A journal of prevention, assessment and Rehabilitation

Background
Globally, there is growing concern regarding workers’ illicit drug use and its implications for health and workplace safety. Young workers in male-dominated industries, such as construction, may be more susceptible to illicit drug use, risky drinking and its associated harms.

Purpose/objectives
To investigate drug use and perceptions of risk among male construction workers, drawing comparisons between workers under 25 years with older age groups.

Methods
Workers in Sydney, Australia (N=511) completed a survey measuring past year illicit drug and alcohol use, psychological distress and perceptions of drug-related risks to health and safety. Prevalence in the total sample was compared with national estimates and differences between younger and older survey respondents were examined using logistic regression models.

Results
Survey respondents’ cocaine, meth/amphetamine and cannabis use was significantly higher than estimates of male employees nationally (OR=6.60, 3.58, 1.61, respectively). Young workers £24 were more likely to frequently use illicit drugs, drink heavily, and report psychological distress than those aged 35+. Workers £24 were least likely to perceive that drug use posed high risks to health or safety when compared with 25-34 and 35+ age groups.

Conclusions/importance
The findings highlight the high prevalence of illicit drug use amongst young construction workers, representing threats to workplace safety even if used outside work hours. Greater emphasis on potential adverse effects of alcohol and drug use and closer examination of contributory workplace factors is required. These findings have practical implications to inform occupational health and safety programs and interventions in high-risk workplaces.

Roche, A., Chapman J., Duraisingam V., Phillips B., Finnane, J., Pidd K. (in press) Flying below the radar: Psychoactive drug use among young male construction workers in Sydney, Australia. Substance Use and Misuse.