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Drug testing in the construction industry

Random drug testing in the workplace has become more common, in order to increase employee protection and reduce workplace accidents. Drug rehab experts Port of Call investigates the effects of substance misuse in the construction industry and how drug testing on construction sites can help to minimise the problem.

Alcohol and drugs in the workplace

Alcohol and drugs can have a negative impact in many situations, especially in a work environment. Substance abuse can affect a company in four ways, including:

  • Absenteeism and dismissal
  • Inefficiency
  • Criminal activity
  • Injuries and fatalities

drug testing in the construction industry

In high risk environments, it is important to ensure the safety of employees and the public alike. Alcohol and drug testing has been a mandatory assessment in the railway industry for a number of years, ensuring safety and minimising the risk of accidents.

Working in the construction industry, whilst operating heavy machinery and vehicles, a small lapse of concentration can have detrimental effects. Hence why building companies are being encouraged to clamp down on the issue of substance abuse and implement random drug testing in construction.
Drug and alcohol testing in construction industry.

Drug testing in construction isn’t yet mandatory. However, many construction companies undertake drug and alcohol testing in order to protect against accidents caused by the misuse of drugs and alcohol.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme have uncovered the following facts about substance abuse:

  • 20-30% of workplace accidents can be associated with alcohol in safety-critical industries such as construction (NHS, 2006).
  • 27% of employers say drug misuse is a problem at work. While 60% have experienced problems due to staff drinking alcohol (Alcohol Concern, 2010).
  • 33% of employees admit to being at work with a hangover from the night before, which they accept impacts directly on their own productivity and safety (Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2015).
  • 3-5% of all absences each year are due to alcohol (Trade Union Congress, 2010).
  • 17 million working days a year are lost in England due to alcohol-related sickness, with more than a third of adults admitting to having used illegal drugs (Health and Safety at work, 2007).
  • £12.2 billion is spent each year on alcohol-sickness absence costs in the UK (Faculty of Public Health, 2006).
  • 3 million deaths a year worldwide are a result of harmful drugs and alcohol use (World Health Organisation, 2015).

Following the results, the Considerate Constructors Scheme has offered guidance on the subject of on-site drug testing stipulating the importance of the tests in their campaign, ‘Spotlight on…Drugs and Alcohol’.

Random drug testing in construction

In the campaign, Chief Executive Edward Hardy states:

“As the Scheme’s latest industry survey revealed 59% of respondents agree that drugs and alcohol are issues of concern,” said Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive, Edward Hardy. “It is clear action must be taken across the industry to ensure the safety, health and well-being across construction sites and companies throughout the UK.”

It is clear from this campaign that the issue of substance abuse is understood in the construction industry and that steps are being taken to combat the issue, with sites providing information on drugs and alcohol through toolbox talks, site inductions and resources such as posters. However, despite these efforts, the problem still persists.

Random drug testing in the workplace could help companies to regulate the problem in both on-site and office locations. The act of drug testing can be a very difficult subject to broach and is a highly sensitive subject in terms of privacy and legalities. However, it is a sure-fire way to regulate substance misuse and prevent injuries.

Construction drug tests should be carried out legally and all employees and personnel should be tested, in order to minimise the risk of discrimination. Testing should be carried out by a professional testing agency who will carry out the test and produce the results.

If you believe you have an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol, Port of Call can help. Our team of experts are on hand to advise you on the treatment available to you, no matter what your circumstances. If you are ready to take the first step, speak to us for free and in confidence today on 08000029010 or email help@portofcall.com.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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