Video Surveillance and Impairment on Job Sites

by Mike Baxter January 31st, 2019 in Construction Security, Security Resources
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 7 seconds
Video Surveillance and Impairment on Job Sites

Construction workers can’t afford to be impaired on the job. With excavators and cranes on the move, not to mention rebar and concrete, smoking a joint or knocking back a few beers can be fatal. But how do you spot an impaired worker before anyone gets hurt? Video monitoring.

 “Substance abuse [is already] a serious workplace issue in our industry,” says David Frame director of government relations at the Ontario General Contractors Association, as quoted in Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine. “We know a very high percentage of workers who are involved in fatal accidents in the construction industry are under the influence of some sort of substance.”

With the legalization of recreational marijuana use, employers fear the problem will only grow worse. Cannabis affects a worker’s speed, dexterity, reaction time, co-ordination and memory. The THC high takes about 30 minutes to kick in, and may last for hours.

While the construction industry has long wrestled with drug and alcohol impairment on the job, most of the policies and guidelines deal with drug testing and treatment. See, for example, the Construction Labour Relations Association of B.C.’s drug and alcohol policy, including their procedures manual.

Random drug testing can discourage workers from taking unnecessary risks. However, video security cameras--especially remotely monitored, event-triggered, analytics-enabled video cameras—can be useful in spotting impaired behaviour, or substance abuse, on site.

The Supreme Court of Canada decided in 2017 that using video surveillance cameras at work to collect evidence of wrongdoing is valid, even without employees’ explicit consent. Workers only need to be informed about the cameras and the video surveillance system must be used for security purposes, such as preventing crime. Arguably, preventing impairment on the job would be a safety and security issue.

A remote video monitoring system, then, can be effective not just for catching trespassers, thieves and vandals, but also for spotting unsafe behaviour by your own workers. And for bringing you peace of mind.


Construction, oil and gas associations develop new policy model for impairment. Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine, July 16, 2018.

Drug & Alcohol Policy. Construction Labour Relations Association of B.C.

Employee Privacy Rights, Guidance Document, November 2017. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C.

Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, We encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.


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