Study Ties Alcohol Abuse, Increased Work-Related
Injuries Among Construction Laborers Who are 25 to 35 Years Old
from Impact Volume XVI, No. 1 May 1998)
CPWR – Center for Construction Research and Training
Younger laborers who have been treated for substance abuse have a nearly
doubled risk of serious injury on the job compared with non-abusers, a
study has found. Laborers 25 to 34 years old who had been treated for
substance abuse had a time-loss injury rate of 23.6 per 100 full-time-equivalent
workers (FTEs),compared with a rate of 12.2 for non-substance abusers
of the same age. For laborers in other age groups, there was little difference
in serious-injury rates between substance abusers and non-abusers. Most
of the substance abuse (85%) involved alcohol. The findings suggest that
substance-abuse prevention programs should be targeted to younger workers.
Earl Pollack and Risana Chowdhury of CPWR – Center for Construction Research and Training
analyzed data from Washington state for 1990 and 1991, with Gary Franklin
and Deborah Fulton-Kehoe of the University of Washington. The researchers
compared union health-insurance records for construction laborers and
workers' compensation records in the Washington State Department of Labor
and Industries. The study covered only serious injuries, known as time-loss
injuries, about 1/3 of injuries reported to workers' comp.
The study, Risk of Job-Related Injury among Construction Laborers with
a Diagnosis of Substance Abuse, covered 7,895 laborers, of whom 422
were diagnosed with a substance-abuse problem in 1990 or 1991.
The difference between substance abusers and nonsubstance abusers likely
is understated here. Injuries were counted as related to substance abuse
only after substance abuse was diagnosed, yet 1/3 of the substance
abusers' work-related injuries occurred before a diagnosis. The study
counted only work on union jobs and only substance abuse treated in a
program paid by union health insurance. Also, some workers who had a substance-abuse
problem might not have gotten treatment.
Nationally, injury rates for all industry have been declining. For construction
in 1991, the rate of injuries with days away from work was 5.5 per 100
FTEs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Because some construction workers work less than full time at construction,
researchers use FTEs (defined as 2,000 hours per year) to measure injury
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