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The bigger picture of substance misuse. Can construction lead the way with tackling societies challenges?

Professor Dame Carol Black said in OH Today (the official journal of iOH)tackling drug misuse is the single most important thing that can be done to reduce crime. Half of all homicides, and half of serious acquisitive crimes, are related to the drugs market. One third of our prison places are accommodating people who are drug-dependent”.

In the workplace, there is a broad spectrum of behaviours and situations that we may be faced with from one-off or occasional use of substances, due to addiction or dependence. As an industry, construction spends millions of pounds on drug testing to deter people from drug use and to prevent incidents from occurring.

The testing probably makes a difference to those who occasionally use drugs, but are we missing a crucial part we can play in supporting a highly stigmatised group of individuals? There will be individuals with a drug dependency in our workforce, who if are tested, possibly will lose their job and likely make their drug use increase by being out of work.

We wrote about zero tolerance policies being a thing of the past previously and with campaigns like Business In The Community (BITC) “ban the box” becoming more popular in construction, where employers remove the criminal record tick box from application forms and ask about candidates’ criminal convictions later. Could construction lead the way in giving this group of individuals the opportunities that they and society need them to have?

Work will be crucial to these individuals’ recovery. Yes, some roles in our industry are safety critical and we always must ensure the safety of our people, but by utilising the expertise from Occupational Health, this could be no different to any other health issue we support people to remain in work with. We’d love to hear your perspective on this, would this work in your workplace?
At CHW we’re committed to a creating a happy and healthy future for our industry. We believe that substance misuse education and rehabilitation programmes are an essential in achieving this. Please get in touch if you want to learn more about how we can help you.

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