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OPIOIDS AND CONSTRUCTION: A BAD COMBINATION

The opioid epidemic is dominating a lot of headlines these days, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that opioids were involved in more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016 — five times that of 1999. But if you think that’s a problem for the D.C. bureaucrats to handle, think again. Opioid addiction and substance abuse in all its forms are hitting the construction industry hard. The injury rate for construction is 77% higher than the national average according to a Midwest Economic Policy Institute study, and too many workers are turning to drugs (prescription and nonprescription) and alcohol to deal with the pain. Consider these statistics:

#2: Construction has the second-highest rate of substance abuse disorder diagnoses among U.S. industries. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

15%: That’s the percentage of construction workers dealing with substance abuse at any given time. (Midwest Economic Policy Institute)

6x: Workers in the Massachusetts construction and extraction industries accounted for 26% of all opioid-related overdose deaths between 2011 and 2015, six times the average rate. (Massachusetts Department of Public Health)

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

You can’t solve the opioid epidemic, obviously, but by putting safety first on your jobsites and establishing a culture that’s open to talking about the issue, you can help prevent your team members from becoming just another substance abuse statistic.