It should come as no surprise that construction workers smoke to cope with the stresses of the industry. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a whopping 34.3 percent of construction workers use some form of tobacco. It may not seem harmful to permit workers to smoke, especially on outdoor projects; however, you would be surprised by the danger and loss of productivity that this addictive habit presents.
In this two-part series, a South FL contractor lawyer from Cotney Construction Law will discuss how smoking impacts construction projects and the non-smoking policies that general contractors should adopt. For all of your construction-related legal needs, consult with the team of South FL contractor lawyers at Cotney Construction Law.
73 Minutes Gone Every Shift
If your employees take five-minute smoke breaks here and there, it doesn’t seem like much at first. It’s not until the numbers are presented that the loss of productivity is truly appreciated. A report published by Emerald Group sought to quantify the smoking habits of construction workers. Construction workers were chosen due to the high prevalence of smoking in the industry.
It was found that, on average, a construction worker smoked about six cigarettes in an eight-hour shift. This added up to 73 minutes, an incredible 15.2 percent loss in productivity. As the report states, “This productivity loss is much higher than productivity losses through increased sick leaves or the wage penalties for smokers found in the literature.”
73 minutes gone. Those five-minute smoke breaks add up. Imagine if every smoker that worked for you left an hour early each and every shift. If you can’t figure out why your projects are coming in behind schedule, it may be because a large percentage of your workforce is unproductive for a large chunk of the day.
Briefly, smoking increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. Each year, over 480,000 deaths in the United States are caused by smoking. Health risks aside, smoking also presents a very real physical danger for construction workers. Workers that smoke around flammable materials and substances are placing themselves and their coworkers in danger. All it takes is one lit cigarette to ignite a fire or explosion.
To ensure worker safety and avoid an inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), you’ll need to have strict rules in place regarding smoking on your construction sites. Read part two, for more information on how you should address smoking on your construction sites.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.