There are some things that almost come standard on a construction site: various 4×4 trucks parked along site boundaries, endless amounts of crumpled receipts stashed and long forgotten at the bottom of pockets, and scattered beverage containers, ranging from Tim Horton’s signature cups to empty plastic soda bottles.
But look a little closer, and you’ll notice something else: the thick grey entrails of smoke swirling through the air. Cigarettes are commonplace on construction sites: More than a third of those working in the industry smoke – 14.2% higher than the national average.
I’m not going to harp on you about the negative impacts that smoking has on your health. I’m sure you already know that smoking one cigarette reduces your expected life span by 11 minutes, or that smoking increases your risk of heart attack by 200%.
I’m going to address the smoke break.
The Math & Productivity
Experts suggest that the average smoke break is 10 minutes long, with the average smoker taking 6 total smoke breaks per day. Let’s do some quick math with these assumptions:
- 3 smoking breaks were taken during regularly scheduled break times (morning, lunch, afternoon)- that means 3 were taken during company time
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in April 2016, the average employee in the construction sector works 39.7 hours per week
- 5-day work week, 198.5 hours worked per week
- According to the same study as mentioned above, the average industry worker earns $27.90 per hour
- 2 vacation weeks are taken per year
10 minutes per break x 3 unpaid breaks per day= 30 minutes paid smoking time
30 minutes per day x 5 working days per week= 2.5 hours per week paid smoking time
2.5 hours per week x 50 working weeks per year= 125 hours per year paid smoking time
125 hours per year x $27.90/hour= $3,487.50 paid each year
When discussing smoke breaks, there is often the rebuttal that smoking can actually increase your productivity. Research has shown that more frequent breaks can be linked to increased brain function and reduced stress levels. However, when polled, a recent survey found that only 46% of smokers believed that smoking (and the associated break) improved their work.
Even if this time were spent helping these employees become more efficient and productive, employers still need to consider the health ramifications of smoking. Health care and benefits are more expensive for smokers. Employers should expect to pay about $2,056 more to cover smokers. Smokers also miss more work than their non-smoking counterparts: A recent study found that smokers admitted to an average of 5 days a year of missed work due to illnesses or health appointments directly related to smoking.
We all know smoking is bad for us. But it’s my belief that smoking, and smoke breaks, can be bad for business.
What do you think?