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In the survey portion of the investigation, 143 people responded to the surveys, all from people in the construction industry. It should be noted that while those who were interviewed had at least five years of experience in the industry, those who responded to the multiple choice survey had only a minimum of one year. This was decided because of the transient nature of those who work in the construction industry. Furthermore, as indicated by the readings, the young male construction employment demographic plays a role in the high amount of alcohol that is consumed on the job and away from the job. Therefore, it is important to include this demographic in the surveys so that the full scope of the potential problem can be understood. This review of the interviews and survey will point to some of the major findings before investigating in detail the results of each interview and survey.
All five interview subjects reported seeing others consume alcohol while on the job. However, because the names of these individuals were known to the employer, and because the subjects knew the results of this survey would likely be published, they may have been unwilling to disclose whether they had consumed alcohol while on the job, or whether they came into work intoxicated. Furthermore, the answers related to the amount of alcohol the person consumes on an average day were also expected to be skewed. Therefore, several questions that were asked in the interviews will only be mentioned here, as the honesty of these workers’ answers is in doubt. The questions to which the workers may have given false answers include: “Have you ever arrived to work intoxicated?” “Have you ever consumed alcohol while on the job?” and “Have you ever provided a co-worker with alcohol on the job?” All of these questions resulted in 100% of interview subjects saying they “no.”
Before continuing, it should be noted that the survey questions are close-ended, and the interview questions are open-ended, which provides for the opportunity for unique answers, rather than yes or no answers. Of the one developer, two consultants, and two contractors who were interviewed, all gave comprehensive answers and seemed genuine during their interviews, except possibly related the three questions listed above. The overwhelming majority of the 10 questions that were asked (excluding the three listed that were potentially answered dishonestly) showed similar results as the literature contained in this paper. This essay will now go through each of the questions to come to the determination about where the primary-source information stands.
Question one asked, “How many times have you noticed one of your co-workers drinking, or being intoxicated on the job?” Of the five interview subjects, three reported seeing one of their co-workers intoxicated at least once, and one reported seeing a co-workers intoxicated twice. All of the workers said they only noticed the one employee intoxicated in all accounts, and did not notice if the issue was present in other workers as well. When asked as a follow-up question about whether they reported the intoxicated worker, only one employee said that they had reported the intoxicated worker to their supervisor. When asked why he reported the intoxicated worker to the supervisor, he said, “I just thought it was the right thing to do. We all have to make sure that everyone is keeping each other safe, and this is a dangerous working environment, so I thought if someone is intoxicated, then they probably aren’t going to be able to do a hell of a lot to protect themselves or those around him.” When asked whether he felt safe reporting the worker to his supervisor, he said, “Yeah. I mean, I know if the guys found out that I reported him, I’d be lambasted, but I had to do what’s right, and there are a lot of guys here who would pat me on the back for what I did.” The worker was then asked if the environment with his company made it so that he felt more comfortable with reporting the incident to the supervisors, to which he answered: “Everyone is definitely aware of it. We watch an orientation video on the first day, but other than that, we don’t really hear much about it. Most guys don’t pay attention to that video, but I’ve seen guys get hurt, and I notice that it is usually the reckless ones. I’m not saying they were drinking when they got hurt, but it does make you wonder.” He was then asked if the management at the company has a strict code that makes it important for workers to report to the supervisors anyone they think might have a drinking problem. He answered: “No not really. I mean other than the video people watch on the first day. Other than that, no one really talks about it. But if you see a guy not giving it his all, or you smell something on him, or he’s acting funny, most guys know what to do. It’s sort of an unwritten code.” When asked whether more enforcement over alcohol on the worksite would limit the incidences, he said, “Yeah. If guys are aware there is a problem with people drinking or coming into work drunk or anything, then more awareness about that kind of stuff will get people to report it more.” After he was asked about why he thinks others do not want to report seeing their peers being intoxicated, he said, “I’m not sure. I could be because they’ll be ridiculed for it.” After asking the two other interview subjects who said they noticed someone intoxicated at work, but did not say anything about it, they both gave a similar answer that basically said it is against a code among workers.
After taking a look at the responses from the men pertaining to this question, it is obvious that there is an issue on the construction sites related to alcohol consumption. While the workers only said they had noticed someone intoxicated up to two times in the at least five years they have worked in the industry, it can be assumed many other cases of people working while intoxicated have occurred, but the workers had not noticed its occurrence. Furthermore, it is possible that the two men who said they did not see anyone intoxicated could have been lying, as they may not have wanted to disclose that they had seen someone and then did not report it.
In the second question, the workers were asked about what prevention and support strategies are currently available on the job for people who are at risk of developing a drinking problem, or for those who have been identified as having a drinking problem. All employees said there was an orientation video that every worker watches before they start their employment. Two of the workers said there is a support system for those who say they need help with either alcohol or other drugs. This involves calling a number that is available in the lunch room and office, and the contact with that support is confidential.
When asked about whether they know of anyone who has contacted the number, and what their experience was, all who had the option said they are unaware of anyone calling the number. The interview also asked employees whether the working conditions are such that they see a great need for people to use the option to call for help. All employees said the job can be very difficult, particularly the entry-level positions that have to do much of the most difficult work. All employees said drinking is a part of the lifestyle of being a construction worker, but most of the employees know how to separate their drinking with work. “Many of the workers have families to support,” one interview subject said. “It is important that we do our jobs well and that means we need to be in to work feeling strong. The guys that don’t do that usually don’t last long.” Another worker said, “The challenges of the job make a lot of guys want to drink on their weekends and whenever they are away from work. This can become a problem for a lot of guys, and that’s why calling a number like this might be needed. I haven’t heard of anyone actually calling for help, but I can’t see anyone calling and then admitting that they called.” After listening to all of the workers’ answers, it appeared like most construction workers drink, but they are expected to be able to handle their alcohol, and not let it get in the way of the job. However, one interview subject said, “If there is a problem, it’s usually with the people who don’t treat the job like it is for life. Some guys aren’t old enough to know how important it is to do well at a job so that you keep it. Those are the guys who need the most help but are too proud or stupid to get it.”
The answers indicate that while there are numbers available to call, no one is very aware of what they will be offered when they call the number. The service does not have a pamphlet that is made available to the employees. It is possible that people are not calling the number even if they require assistance, because they are not aware of what is entailed by calling that number. This could indicate that more integration between the help that is offered and the actual employees could be needed for the workers to be comfortable with the number. Furthermore, due to the fact that asking for help has a negative stigma attached to it in the construction business, the information provided with the contact number should indicate that it is private.
Next, the workers were asked about what demographic they suspect as having the majority of the problems. Four of the interview subjects said the people who are new on the job are typically the ones who have a problem with drinking. “They are the ones who party the hardest, and I bet there are a lot of them coming into work still drunk from the night before. They are the ones who are given the hardest time, because they are usually falling behind the rest of us who have done this stuff for years.” The interview subjects all reported a division between the workers who had been on the job for a long time, and the workers who are more recent additions to the workforce. “A lot of these young guys don’t have families to support, and they aren’t trying to keep the job for a long time. They think they will just do this for a while and save enough money to go to school. They are just here temporarily, so they don’t mind coming in hung over and performing poorly on the job. They will drink all night long, and maybe sneak a few on the side while at work. Those are the guys who are either going to get caught with alcohol, or they are going to be so slow when they are working, that they are going to be fired.” When asking the three who reported seeing someone intoxicated or drinking on the job, all three said the workers were young, and relatively new on the job. All of them had less than one year of experience.
This indicates there could be a problem with attracting the right type of employees for the job. Furthermore, once these employees are recruited, there may not be enough emphasis on the various dangers associated with drinking too much alcohol. Many of these young employees might not be aware of the culture on construction sites and they are often too young to know the damaging results of the lifestyle. Advice could be given to the young people about how to effectively deal with the high amount of alcohol that is consumed among workers after work, and they could be made aware of some of the help available to them. Furthermore, these interviews have shown that more help may be needed in addressing the various factors linked to alcohol use on the job.
The five interview subjects were then asked about how bad the drinking problem on construction sites was. Two said there is a problem that needs to be addressed, and the other three said there is a lot of alcohol consumption in general, but it is never going away and it does not get in the way of the work. “It’s just a part of this culture. Everyone drinks.” But, again, two others said there is a problem, and it is largely the young people on the job who are not able to be responsible when they are drinking. According to the interview subjects, the more experienced workers have become responsible over their years of employment at construction companies, and they no longer feel a need to consume a lot of alcohol.
The answers to this question raise much of the same concern over the amount of alcohol that is being consumed on the job. Furthermore, it indicates the problem is persisting among the young workers. However, this evidence is only based on the opinion of five workers, and cannot be applied to the entire situation. However, according to Irving et. al., young males are at a greater risk of drinking a large amount of alcohol and then getting into a motor vehicle accident. This could indicate that binge drinking is more common with younger workers, and, therefore, a higher rate of young employees coming into work in the morning while still intoxicated could be prevalent. Furthermore, Tripathi state young workers in all industries are under the influence of alcohol while on the job more often than older workers. The literature supports the information given by the interview subjects.
With only 33% of the workers reporting a sighting of an intoxicated person telling a supervisor, this questions has revealed a valuable component of the study: The construction industry has a culture that does not support reporting people who are believed to have been drinking, or who have come into work while intoxicated. This piece of information says it is vital for the culture at construction sites to cultivate a culture that promotes reporting when someone comes into work intoxicated.