In Summary

Construction workers and their employers have a new tool to tackle alcohol and drug use and help create a safer workplace.

Launched today at Swinburne University of Technology, is designed to guide and educate industry about how alcohol and other drug consumption can drastically affect performance and safety on the construction site.

Dr Jo Abbott, Acting Deputy Director of the National eTherapy Centre at Swinburne said that providing information and tools via the internet helps get messages about safe workplaces out to a large number of workplaces, including those in remote areas, and people can access the information anonymously at a time and place that suits them.

The website is the direct result of a two-year project Safety Impacts of Alcohol and Other Drugs in Construction run by the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre (SBEnrc), with project partners from the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q, Queensland University of Technology), the National Drug Research Institute (Curtin University), the National e-Therapy Centre (Swinburne) and lead industry partner John Holland.

SBEnrc lead researcher Professor Herbert Biggs explained a national survey undertaken during the research identified a need for the construction sector to be able to access information and tools when dealing with employees who consume alcohol or take drugs.

“Results detailed in the research report indicate that, as in the general population, a proportion of employees sampled in the construction industry may be at risk of hazardous alcohol consumption,” Professor Biggs said.

“The findings support the need for evidence-based, comprehensive and tailored responses in the construction workplace, and in the broad community, so that those who may be ‘at risk’ are provided with accessible and relevant information and/or help when necessary, and this is where the website comes in.”

SBEnrc Chief Executive Officer Professor Keith Hampson said the project and website were a great example of the SBEnrc’s commitment to enhance the performance of Australia’s built environment industry.

“This project involved a unique industry-government-research collaboration across the construction workforce,” Professor Hampson said.

“The challenge is to build safer workplaces through working together and the new website will certainly help to achieve this in the construction industry.”

Website participants complete online modules which identify risks and offer prevention strategies.

The website provides information as to how organisations and workplaces can develop alcohol and other drug consumption awareness, policies, and practices of overall health, safety and welfare benefits to individual employees.

Although primarily designed for the construction sector, the website is also applicable to other industries.

SBEnrc is located in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University in Perth.