CALGARY, Aug. 11 /CNW/ - Alcohol addiction and family support mechanisms
to treat it are major issues in Canada's oil and gas industry, according to a
report just released by Shepell-fgi, Canada's leading provider of workplace
health and productivity solutions. The report examined employee access of
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) from 2006 through 2008, and showed that
substance abuse, alcohol in particular, is a chronic challenge in the
industry's labour force. The report pointed to a 481% increase in EAP access
for alcohol abuse over the three-year period.
The report, called Health and Wellness Trends in the Oil and Gas Sector,
examined EAP data for 36 upstream petroleum industry organizations from
January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2008, and compared the results to
national norms. The report was prepared by the Shepell-fgi Research Group.
According to the report:
- Employees in the oil and gas industry accessed their EAP at a rate
34% higher than the Canadian norm in 2006, and 40% higher in both
2007 and 2008
- EAP utilization increased almost 5% per year over the three-year
- EAP utilization by the spouses of workers employed in the oil and gas
industry was 33% higher than the national norm in 2006, 56% higher in
2007, and 75% higher in 2008.
"Working in stressful jobs in remote locations, combined with distance or
long periods of time away from family, is a prime cause for such problems as
addiction," said Rod Phillips, CEO of Shepell-fgi.
"Employees in the oil and gas industry, and their dependents, are
primarily looking to the EAP for assistance with work-life issues, including
family support services and substance abuse intervention. Workplace health and
safety, including substance abuse policies and programs, is of critical
concern where heavy industrial construction and technical competency are
fundamental components of the work environment."
The oil and gas sector employs over 500,000 people, 58% of them in
Alberta. The industry is Canada's largest single private investor, and has
invested $50 billion in the past two years. It holds 25% of the value on the
TSX, and paid $24 billion to federal and provincial governments in the past
Looking at data for 2008, oil and gas employees and their dependents
utilized their EAP at greater rates than the national norm for eldercare
services (120% higher), childcare services (43% higher), addiction counselling
(35% higher), nutritional counselling (21% higher), and family counselling
"Oil and gas workers face socio-economic stressors involved in locating
suitable resources to support family who accompany them to a new city, but
have no social infrastructure to rely on," said Phillips. "The current
economic crisis may also contribute to a higher incidence of EAP access for
family support services."
Phillips said that substance abuse can impact the job in terms of
lateness, absence, job function, work relationships, family welfare, financial
risk management, and legal risk management.
The report also looked at trends in employee health, and highlighted
reasons why EAP access for family support issues have increased year over
year. The reasons include:
- Expansion of the Oil Sands, and growth of the industry to support an
increasing global demand for petroleum and energy products
- Increased worker mobility for skilled trades
- Worker absence from the family
- Limited social network and local infrastructure to support family
"As the industry continues to develop in remote sites, it will be
necessary to address the social infrastructure, services, and resources for
retraining the existing workforce and attracting new hires to the industry,"
said Karen Seward, Senior Vice President of Business Development and
"The EAP can be utilized as a resource for referrals to community and
private programs, information, and consultation towards addressing immediate
issues or longer-term solutions."
Seward said that accessing the EAP is a self-declaration for help. She
says organizations should:
1. Promote a healthy workplace and build a culture of open
2. Offer supervisors training and education to help them recognize signs
of substance abuse.
3. Recognize that addiction is a health issue that can have long-term
4. Make use of programs offered through the EAP to provide more
Shepell-fgi is Canada's leading provider of workplace health and
productivity solutions, including prevention-focused Employee Assistance
Programs, Health and Disability Management, Organizational Solutions, and
Training. The company serves over eight million employees and their families
across Canada, the United States, and internationally. Shepell-fgi helps
organizations maintain healthy employees and healthy workplaces.
The Shepell-fgi Research group, a division of Shepell-fgi, has a mandate
to educate employers and business leaders on physical, mental, and social
health issues as these factors impact employees, their families, and their
workplaces. The Shepell-fgi Research Group offers a precise understanding of
health and wellness trends by conducting sector and issue-based analysis.
Since 2002, the Shepell-fgi Research Group has published 18 issue-based
reports and eight sector-based reports.
For further information:
For further information: or for a full version of the research brief,
please contact: Jerry Amernic, Phone: (416) 284-0838, Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org; Vicky Zeldin, Manager, Marketing, Shepell-fgi, Phone:
(416) 355-5424, Email: email@example.com