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Alcohol consumption in the Australian coal mining industry
  1. Ross J Tynan1,2,3,
  2. Robyn Considine3,
  3. John Wiggers3,4,
  4. Terry J Lewin5,
  5. Carole James6,
  6. Kerry Inder7,
  7. Frances Kay-Lambkin2,5,
  8. Amanda L Baker3,
  9. Jaelea Skehan1,
  10. David Perkins5,6,
  11. Brian J Kelly3,5
  1. 1Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Hunter New England Population Health, Wallsend, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia
  7. 7School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ross Tynan, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, School of Medicine and Public Health, P.O. Box 833 Newcastle, NSW 2300, Australia; ross.tynan{at}


Objectives To investigate patterns of alcohol use within the coal mining industry, and associations with the personal, social, workplace and employment characteristics.

Design 8 mine sites across 3 eastern Australian states were surveyed, selected to encompass key geographic characteristics (accessibility and remoteness) and mine type (open cut and underground). Problematic alcohol use was measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to determine: (1) overall risky or hazardous drinking behaviour; and (2) frequency of single-occasion drinking (6 or more drinks on 1 occasion).

Results A total of 1457 employees completed the survey, of which 45.7% of male and 17.0% of female participants reported levels of alcohol use within the range considered as risky or hazardous, considerably higher than the national average. Hierarchical linear regression revealed a significant contribution of many individual level factors associated with AUDIT scores: younger age, male, current smoking status; illicit substance use; previous alcohol and other drug use (AOD) problems; and higher psychological distress. Workplace factors associated with alcohol use included working in mining primarily for the high remuneration, and the type of mining, with underground miners reporting higher alcohol use than open-cut miners.

Conclusions Our findings provide support for the need to address alcohol use in the coal mining industry over and above routine on-site testing for alcohol use.

  • Mining
  • Workplace Health
  • Illicit drugs

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  • Contributors RJT is the main author and contributed to all aspects of study design, data acquisition, data analysis and interpretation, and preparation of the manuscript. RC and BJK led the study conception and design, with RC involved in data collection. TJL and JW provided assistance with study design, data collation, analysis and interpretation. FK-L, ALB, JS, DP, KI and CJ provided strategic guidance throughout the project, and assisted with preparation of the manuscript.

  • Funding Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP), grant number c22045.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University of Newcastle Human Research Ethics.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.