Office 1, 122B Belmore Road, Randwick, Sydney, NSW 2031

Alcohol Consumption and the Construction Industry

Most of us enjoy a drink (or two or three!) maybe celebrating a special occasion, at the end of a long day or meeting up with friends for a few


beers or a glass of wine at the weekend. However for some people alcohol isn’t just an occasional or social activity, it has turned into a problem that can seriously affect their relationships, work and life in general.

When affected by alcohol on site, whether it be the day after a heavy drinking session or actually consuming alcohol before or during work, you risk on the job injuries or death as a result of impaired coordination, judgement and the ability to see hazards and respond to them appropriately.

So let’s look at some facts from a Policy Talk paper written for the Australian Drug Foundation:

  • Annual cost of alcohol related absenteeism alone in the Australian workplace is estimated to be up to $1.2 billion.
  • Alcohol and other drug use (not including tobacco) accounts for around $5.2 billion in lost productivity, workplace injury and even death.
  • Alcohol use contributes to 5% of all Australian workplace deaths and 11% of workplace accidents.

The construction industry has one of the highest levels of workers who use illicit drugs, second only to the hospitality industry, and tradespeople are the occupational group who are most likely to drink at ‘risky’ levels. It has been suggested that tradition has a lot to do with the alcohol consumption in the construction industry; as construction workers start earlier than most typical 9-5’ers usually around 7am they typically finish work around 3.30pm/4pm which then gives them an hour or two before most people finish their work day and they use this time to have a couple of after work drinks with their colleagues.

As well as after work drinks having a drink or two with lunch is also common amongst construction workers, or those “rained off” days that mean the workers end up in the pub and then as a result are working the next day with hangovers! Sound familiar?

Although with younger construction workers they may not choose to drink during the week but binge drink on a weekend. This may seem like a better option but then they are still putting themselves and their colleagues at risk by turning up to work Monday morning with a hangover (or still over the limit) or suffering from fatigue from their binge. Not ideal.


How are employers tackling this issue

Formal workplace policies regarding alcohol and drug use is a good start, which a lot of employers are now putting into place to tackle the problem. Education and training around the issue is also helping workers to understand the serious risk of injury they are causing for both themselves and the others around them. In addition to this it is important for testing of workers which not only deters them from consuming alcohol or drugs whilst at work or before work, but will make them consider their choices should they be found to be over the limit and risk losing their job.

Employers need to take responsibility for this behaviour in the workplace to keep their employees safe. And should their employees suffer from alcohol addiction or dependence provide the right information regarding services that can help provide support and counselling to help them out of a bad situation before it worsens.

At BriX Projects labour hire we have a zero tolerance of alcohol or illicit substances for our workers. If you would like to know more about our policies or about our labour hire options then please contact our team today who will be able to help.

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