No industry has been hit harder by the opioid epidemic than construction, and even after years of data and investigations exposing how rampant drug use is on the job site, experts say construction companies still aren’t doing enough to save the lives of their workers suffering from addiction.
Until the coronavirus halted what had been the longest period of economic expansion in U.S. history, many cities across the country were in building booms, nudging skylines to new heights, funneling new companies into urban cores and pressuring contractors to keep projects on time.
Even as shelter-in-place orders took hold across the country to halt the spread of the pandemic, most governments deemed construction essential, and work has continued. The unwavering, strenuous nature of construction translates to a high rate of workplace injury.
“Manual labor is a struggle,” Boston-based Newton-Wellesley Hospital Director of Substance Use Services Dr. Antje Barreveld said. “Their livelihood is tied to their ability to perform. Unless their work is diversified, it’s inevitable they are going to encounter chronic pain and repetitive injury.
“Opioids can play a role in getting them back to work.”
Construction workers account for the highest percentage of opioid-related deaths in states like Massachusetts and West Virginia. While opioid-related overdose deaths peaked in 2017 with 47,600 nationwide, they are still at epidemic levels, with 46,802 more fatalities in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.…
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