In the belief that “a safe, healthy and drug-free workplace is everyone’s business,” the Laborers’ International Union of North America joined four other unions and five contractor organizations in a major expansion of the Drug-Free Workplace Alliance created last November by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Participating in the formal signing of the Drug Free Workplace Alliance expansion are (sitting at table from left to right): Gary Fore, Vice President for Environment and Safety of the National Asphalt and Pavement Association; Ken Rigmaiden, Executive General Vice President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; Secretary Chao; Doug Williams, President of the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association; and Joe Fowler, Executive Director of the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America and (standing from left to right): Anne St. Eloi, Special Representative to the General President of the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada; Robert C. Hoover, First Vice President of the NEA  The Association of Union Constructors; Vincent Giblin, General President of the International Union of Operating Engineers; Dr. Peter Ruane, President and CEO of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association; James “Bud” McCourt, General Secretary-Treasurer of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Union.

“A construction worksite is no place for an alcohol- or drug-impaired worker,” says LIUNA General President Terence M. O’Sullivan. “To limit this risk and, also, to ensure that workers who need help get it, the Laborers support efforts to establish comprehensive drug-free workplace programs in the construction industry.”

Among the contractor partners is the NEA – the Association of Union Constructors whose Executive Vice President, Noel C. Borck, serves as Management Co-Chairman of the LHSFNA. Also participating is the Association of General Contractors, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the National Asphalt Pavement Association as well as the International Union of Operating Engineers – all partners with LIUNA, the LHSFNA or the Laborers-AGC in various training or safety and health projects.

At the July 10 signing ceremony at the newly-constructed U.S. Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland, Maryland, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said, “The new members of the alliance will more than double the number of workers covered by the alliance to over 2.4 million.” She also pointed out that the participation of contractors in the alliance was a new step forward in its development.

Alliance activities focus on educating workers about the importance of being drug-free to improving workplace safety and about help for those who may have problems with alcohol or other drugs. This fall, the Alliance also plans to conduct the first-ever “Drug-Free Work Week” campaign to further heighten awareness of the benefits of drug-free workplace programs.

LIUNA and its signatory employers have been leaders in the development of DFWP programs in the construction industry. “Our goal is to make sure that every Laborer is ready and able to work safely when he or she gets to the jobsite,” says Jamie Becker, the LHSFNA Health Promotion Division Associate Director. “Drug and alcohol addictions are medical conditions that require treatment and care. We help employers set up programs that help maintain the safest jobsites possible by identifying potential problems and providing help so that Laborers can keep – or return to – their jobs as they overcome their addiction.”

Unfortunately, the heavy use of drugs or alcohol among construction workers is widespread compared to most other industries. About 12 percent acknowledge drug use and 16 percent are heavy drinkers. This compares to a national average, respectively, of 7.8 and 8.0 percent. Only mining has a similarly high usage.

“Like LIUNA, construction contractors want to make sure every worksite is safe from the risks imposed by alcohol- or drug-impaired workers,” says Borck. “Union contractors are also very concerned about curtailing unnecessary lost workdays and injury claims as well as ensuring that construction workers who are impaired get the help they need to overcome their addictions. The LHSFNA has a lot of experience assisting in the development of effective programs and is happy to help combat these dangers.”

More information on the Alliance is available from Working Partners, a Department of Labor website.

For help in setting up a DFWP program, contact the LHSFNA Health Promotion Division at 202-628-5465.