Pressure builds on young tradies

Apprentices in the construction industry are a high risk group for alcohol and other drug-related harm.

They were also found to be at high risk of poor psychological wellbeing due to stress and workplace bullying, which was associated with drug use, according to a new study from the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University.

The tradies study focused on 169 first-year apprentices enrolled in construction trade courses at TAFE.

Almost three-quarters (72.2%) of the group were reported to have problem drinking, almost one quarter (24.9%) had used cannabis in the past month, and 3.6% had used meth/amphetamine in the past month.

Almost a quarter (24.8%) reported moderate to high levels of job stress, 15.4% reported high levels of psychological distress and 11.8% reported high levels of workplace bullying.

Job stress and bullying were significantly associated with psychological distress and meth/amphetamine use.

Lead author Associate Professor Ken Pidd, Deputy Director (Research) at NCETA, conducted the study to evaluate a wellbeing intervention.

“Our previous research has found that construction industry is the one of the highest risk workforce groups for harm from drug and alcohol use,” Associate Professor Pidd says.

“We’ve now identified that these risks are present when apprentices first enter the workforce.

“This study shows that young construction workers could benefit from effective interventions, which could make a positive impact on their physical and psychological wellbeing.”

The paper will be presented at the 2017 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Scientific Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday 15 November.

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