The use of drugs and excessive consumption of alcohol is a growing problem on construction projects. It can lead to:
- Impaired ability which impacts safety – either for the person or others on the project. This leads to accidents, injury and damage to equipment.
- An increased chance of workers taking part in risky behavior.
- Poor work performance.
- Violence on the project which is directed against other workers and management and even in some cases the customer.
- Poor quality work.
- Reduced productivity.
- Instances of theft and fraud to pay for a drug habit or alcohol dependency.
- Inebriated or drug affected employees may be seen badly behaving, either at the work site, or away from the project but while wearing the company’s uniform or driving company vehicles. This poor behavior will reflect poorly on the company and could negatively impact members of the public who may be potential future customers.
Even excessive consumption of alcohol after hours can lead to workers arriving at work inebriated from the night before, arriving late for work or even being absent from work. Workers that are absent can impact progress on the project especially if they are a key operator or vital member of the crew. When some members of the crew are regularly late or absent it places more pressure on the rest of the crew who have to fill in for the missing worker.
What can we do?
We had one project where there were numerous instances of people arriving late for work, being absent without leave, as well as numerous safety incidents. Many of these incidents were probably related to the excessive consumption of alcohol after-hours, and, although there was a breathalyzer on site, the tests were not administered correctly with few instances of people being found over the limit. Yet, as soon as we put a trained, responsible, person in charge of these tests, the number of staff found to be over the limit at first increased, but once employees realized they would be caught and removed from the project if they were over the limit, their numbers decreased and productivity, attendance and safety improved.
To ensure that alcohol and drugs don’t become a problem project managers should make sure that:
- The project has rules in place regarding the abuse of drugs and alcohol. These rules must be enforced and applied uniformly and there should be no differentiation between management and workers.
- There is a policy of zero tolerance.
- Each employee understands the company’s policy and that it is included in their employment contracts.
- The company’s policy on alcohol and drug abuse is discussed at the project induction.
- Periodically the impact of drug abuse and excessive alcohol consumption is discussed at toolbox or safety meetings and the dangers on the work site of employers under the influence of drugs or alcohol are highlighted.
- Information posters are displayed on the project warning of the risks of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Random alcohol and drug testing is conducted
- Supervisors are on the lookout for the indications of inebriated or drug affected workers.
- Workers are encouraged to report the abuse of alcohol or drugs by others on the project.
- Management ensures that they set a positive example.
Construction work isn’t easy and many workers are absent for long periods of time from their family and work long hours. This could lead to workers turning to alcohol and drugs for recreation and comfort.
Management needs to take a proactive and consistent approach from the start of the project to deter workers from being inebriated or drug impaired at the workplace.
Have you found the use of drugs or alcohol a problem on your project? Has alcohol or drug consumption caused problems on your project?
ClockShark is the #1 time tracking and scheduling app for construction and field service companies! To learn more check out the video below. To get a free 14-day trial visit www.clockshark.com