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28 May 2020

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

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 meth/amphetamine.
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.

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