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.

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 AM, Chapman J, Duraisingam V, Phillips B, Finnane J, Pidd K. Construction workers’ alcohol use, knowledge, perceptions of risk and workplace norms. Drug Alcohol Rev 2020]

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

Drugs – Education, prevention and policy

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.

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]

Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation.

Work – A journal of prevention, assessment and Rehabilitation

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Roche, AM., Chapman, J., Duraisingam, V., Phillips, B., Finnane, J., & Pidd, K. (Accepted pending minor revisions, July 2020). Flying below the radar: Psychoactive drug use among young male construction workers. Substance Use and Misuse.