The New York City Council has been pushed to mandate drug and alcohol testing for all the construction workers on its payroll.
The Council has already been considering a new package of safety legislation. Among other things, it would require workers to undergo additional safety training and apprenticeship work.
Associated Builders and Contractors, a non-union group, wrote to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Buildings Committee Chair Jumaane Williams, saying that “drugs and alcohol are likely among the leading causes of injury to construction workers.”
President of the group’s NY chapter, Brian Sampson, continued by saying that it “would be strange to pass worksite safety legislation while ignoring such a major negative factor in the industry.”
Whether or not this is true is pretty debatable. The president of the Building and Construction Trades Council, Gary LeBarbera, pointed out the fact that none of the 33 construction worker deaths that have occurred in New York since 2015 involved any kind of drug or alcohol abuse.
“This letter is nothing more than a diversionary attempt by irresponsible developers and nonunion contractors to scapegoat workers, shift the blame to victims, and cover up for their own poor safety record which puts profits over worker safety,” he continued.
Having said that, despite extensive safety legislation construction jobs can sometimes be some of the most dangerous out there.
No similar proposals have been put forward in the UK. Still, if someone were to suggest that all government employed construction workers in say, London, should undergo this kind of testing, what would the reaction be?