Now more than ever, substance abuse is controlling the lives of many. We’ve witnessed increases within certain demographics, industries and geographical locations. One of the areas where an increase has been recognised is within the construction industry.
Worryingly, addiction in the construction industry is rising rapidly. Down to the heavy drinking culture, and increased rates of mental health issues, having a reliance on drugs or alcohol is now probable within the construction sector.
Through recent industry-based surveys, findings also indicate the internal worries that construction workers do feel when considering workplace risks or issues with drugs and alcohol. Although it has become normalised by many, it is becoming a high-risk factor within the industry, impacting health and safety measures, physical and mental health concerns, and economic risks.
Understanding why this increase has happened is very important, along with steps to reduce addiction in the industry. Many companies are now rolling out consistent drug tests, helping to recognise the severity of problems within their construction companies. However, it is important that this process is welcomed by further companies, with the aim to reduce addiction rates in the construction industry, while supporting their employees.
If you’re personally affected by addiction, our team here at Action Rehab are available to support you with your next best steps.
Addiction in the construction industry
Like many industries, substance abuse has become normalised within construction. There is a heavy drinking culture, whether that’s lunchtime drinks or after work socials. As it is a male dominant industry, there’s also high competition rates, always surrounding alcohol. This culture has existed for years, reducing the shock factor of addiction in the construction industry.
Yet, the key driving factor which has increased substance abuse in construction is the rise of mental health issues, especially in men. There is a stereotype that men should be tough and resilient, especially in manual labour industries. Through this stereotype, many men will hide their emotions, by fixating on addictive substances.
Here is where the cause for concern lies, where addictions are developing down to pre-existing mental health issues, known to aggravate each other significantly. Here is where construction workers are finding it hard to speak out, to acknowledge their addiction, and to seek support through their employer.
However, it is very important that this stigma and stereotype is diminished. It is important that the normalisation of addiction in the construction sector is reduced. It is also vital that employers actively attempt to support their employees. By avoiding these steps, there are significant risks, with a high focus around health and safety in construction.
The problems of substance abuse in the construction industry
Drug abuse at work is hazardous. No matter the industry, arriving at work intoxicated can result in many negative impacts, for both the employee and employer. However, within the construction industry, classified as a high labour sector, there are significant concerns regarding the uncontrollable impacts of substance abuse.
- – Health and safety risks
Health and safety risks are high within the construction industry. Following measures and policies is vital to maintain a safe site. It is actually noted that a construction worker is at higher risk of workplace fatalities by six-fold. Now imagine the risk when substance abuse is added into the mix.
Excessive substance abuse can reduce concentration, deviate attention, adapt perceptions and significantly decrease reactions. By pairing substance abuse and construction work, it can be easy to see how fatalities can happen on site.
Addiction in the construction industry will not only impact the individual using drugs or alcohol. It can cause health and safety risks for other workers or even members of the public. Workplace accidents, injuries, mistakes and deaths are probable through intoxication.
It’s important to note that health and safety risk assessments should be carried out on every site, while also assessing employees. Bad-coordination, impaired vision or hearing, the inability to focus and poor decision making are a few signs of substance abuse.
- – Physical and mental health risks
Normalising substance abuse within the workplace can also carry significant risks for an employee’s physical and mental health. Excessive drug and alcohol consumption can lead to an addiction, known to influence vast internal damages and changes.
There is a high link between substance abuse and mental health issues, which carry substantial concerns within the construction industry. As it is a high-pressure job, working long hours, there are increased probabilities of developing a pre-existing mental health issue. Mixing this with excessive substance abuse can result in a dual diagnosis, aggravating one another.
- – Economic risks
Down to health and safety risks, and the health concerns linked to substance abuse, addiction in the construction industry can also lead to economic risks. From low-quality work and high absenteeism, to damages and sometimes legal costs, addiction in the workplace can result in financial losses.
As there are a number of high-risk factors, affected by the advanced correlation between addiction and the construction sector, it is important that both workers and employers are aware of these dangers, while also promoting a supportive and rehabilitating environment.
Ways to help diminish addiction in the construction industry
Diminishing addiction in the construction industry is very important, to save the lives of those affected, and the associated companies. To combat this, many companies are now rolling our drug tests as the norm, helping to identify employees who are suffering in silence with substance abuse and mental health issues.
It is however vital that companies do follow a compassionate and non-judgmental approach, ensuring that employees feel supported, rather than penalised.
Having a strong workplace policy for dealing with addiction is encouraged, with self-help tips, on site testing kits, mental health support services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation efforts. It is also important that the stigma linked to regularised substance abuse is also worked through, increasing the comfort that men will experience to reach out for support.
By actively participating in the aim to reduce addiction in the construction industry, risks will decrease regarding health and safety, physical and mental health concerns and economic impacts; benefiting both employees and employers.
If you’re personally suffering with substance abuse, an addiction or believe that drug and alcohol consumption are taking place in your workplace, we can help you here at Action Rehab through a range of support and referral services. Reach out today to change the link between substance abuse and the construction sector.