Drug and alcohol abuse among plant operators a ‘ticking timebomb’

Callum Mackintosh

THE Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has written to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to call on the organisation to help tackle the ‘major problem’ of drug and alcohol abuse among plant operators.

The SPOA has been raising awareness of this issue for years, having called on industry stakeholders to recognise the problem and take action back in 2020. The association revealed it has already confirmed with the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS) and the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) that they have the mechanics in their systems to introduce a scheme like one used by the rail industry where failed drug or alcohol tests lead to competence card holders having their cards either temporarily suspended or permanently revoked should industry require it.

Callum Mackintosh, president of the SPOA, said there is currently ‘no deterrent’ to prevent plant operators from turning up for work whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“The SPOA believes that there should be scope to remove competence cards if a plant operator fails a drug or alcohol test,” he added. “The industry should approach this in the same way as the consequences of any driver who drives whilst under the influence. We believe that failure to tackle this issue is a ticking timebomb with a serious accident on a construction site simply waiting to happen.

“Alarming research published by the Considerate Constructors Scheme found that 59% of those surveyed had concerns over the effects of drugs and alcohol in construction, 35% noticed their colleagues under the influence of drugs and alcohol and 25% agreed that drugs and alcohol affected them at work through tiredness. This simply cannot be allowed to continue.

“The CLC’s creation was a result of the 2013 Pye Tait report. That same report also gave the CLC the power to investigate the best ways of establishing a common industry approach to the limited life of all cards, the renewal process and any required revocation processes. The CLC therefore has the power to act and the whole industry is looking to the council to show leadership on this issue.”

In addition to health and safety issues on site, the SPOA stated that record keeping across the industry is ‘poor’, meaning that if a plant operator is dismissed by an employer for failing a drug or alcohol test, they can easily find employment elsewhere.

Drug and alcohol abuse among plant operators a ‘ticking timebomb’ | Project Plant

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