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Published: Summer, 2003; Vol 5, Num 2

 

Alcohol: A Serious Concern for Laborers

In conjunction with National Alcohol Awareness Month observed in April, the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) launched its first-ever alcohol awareness campaign. The ongoing campaign is designed to help educate Laborers and their families about the serious effects of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, both on and off the job.

Alcohol and Construction

Almost 18 million Americans have alcohol problems, but alcohol is a problem for a disproportionate number of construction workers.

The construction industry, along with mining, ranks highest in heavy alcohol use among its workforce. Sixteen percent (16%) of construction workers are heavy users; other industries average only eight percent (8%).

Heavy alcohol use is three times greater among men (11%) than women (4%), and Laborers are predominantly male.

Heavy drinking contributes to heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death among LIUNA members. Also, a strong association exists between oral and throat cancers and heavy alcohol use, especially among smokers, and 41% of Laborers smoke.

Use of alcohol on the job is a violation of many workplace policies, could lead to loss of job and poses a safety risk to oneself and co-workers.

Help Sources

Member Assistance Programs (MAP)

Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hopeline: 800-475-HOPE

Alcohol Treatment Referral Line: 800-252-6465

CSAT Drug Information, Treatment & Referral Hotline: 800-662-HELP or 800-66-AYUDA (Spanish)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The campaign reflects the growing awareness within the construction industry that drug and alcohol problems have an impact on member and family well-being, on safety and productivity on the job and on signatory profitability.

The LHSFNA takes various approaches to address the issues and concerns that alcohol can present for members and their families and also for signatory employers.

Helping contractors implement drug-free workplace programs and assisting health and welfare funds to develop Member Assistance Programs (MAPs) are two ways the Fund makes a difference. The Alcohol Awareness Campaign is another way to educate members on the facts and effects of alcohol so that drinking never becomes a problem.

The campaign focuses on the two most prevalent and serious types of alcohol problems.

The first is alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence. This is a disease evidenced by four symptoms: craving, loss of control, physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety) and tolerance - the need to drink more to get "high."

The second problem is alcohol abuse. This involves drinking in a way that seriously interferes with one's personal life and responsibilities, even if only infrequently or irregularly. Examples include missing work or ignoring home responsibilities; drinking in situations that are physically dangerous (e.g., driving or operating machinery); arrests for drunken behavior; or continued drinking despite on-going relationship problems.

Help and treatment for alcohol problems depend on the nature and severity of the problem, but the sooner help is requested, the better the chances for a successful recovery.

[Steve Clark]