MORE than 10 per cent of Laing O'Rourke workers who were randomly tested for drugs have been sacked this year after failing the tests.
Chairman Ray O'Rourke revealed that 165 of his staff have been dismissed since January after testing positive for cocaine or cannabis.
The firm's latest 'Human Capital Report' shows that 1,511 workers were tested in random checks during the past nine months on jobs across the count ry.
Of those, 124 tested positive for cannabis, 41 for cocaine and 25 for both.
The O'Rourke figures confirm fears of a growing drug problem in the industry.
An O'Rourke source said: 'It's a serious problem on site and in society as a whole, so we are trying to address it.
'There's no point hiding from it so we have put the figures in the report on our people.'
A health and safety director at one major contractor said: 'If anything, our failure rate is even higher. The increase in the number of people testing positive for cocaine is the thing that really stands out.
'I can't remember another construction company publishing figures like this but hats off to O'Rourke for making it public.
'It's obvious that drug use in society is becoming more widespread and contracting will mirror that. But we have to take a harsh line because of the safety aspects involved.'
The drugs figures are included in a 22page report into all aspects of staff welfare at the UK's largest private contractor.
O'Rourke has 23,348 employees worldwide, with a site workforce of 17,711, backed up by 5,637 office staff.
The firm directly employs its operatives in the UK. These include 400 bricklayers, 1,110 carpenters, 630 electricians, 578 steel fixers, 834 plant operators and 3,103 labourers.
Mr O'Rourke said: 'For years, construction has faced an inexorable decline in traditional trades. We have set out to change this by investing heavily in improving site conditions and professionalising the status of our site management and leadership.'