Opioid Crisis Hits Construction Industry Hard
Work was suspended recently at construction sites throughout Connecticut to bring attention to the impact of the opioid crisis on the industry.
The Connecticut Construction Industries Association conducted the Opioid Stand Down from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 to raise awareness of the increasing susceptibility of construction workers to substance use disorders in an industry with high rates of job-related injuries.
Work was halted at job sites so workers could gather to learn about resources and encourage support for victims.
Gov. Ned Lamont and other officials addressed the crisis at an Oct. 28 press conference at the State Office Building, which is being renovated.
“We’re realizing that protection on the job is bigger than the safety vest you wear, the hard hat, and the training,” Lamont said.
“We’re all here because we know someone who’s been touched by this and we know folks who have lost their lives, or their lives have been changed forever.”
Lamont said the opioid crisis is not a moral failure but, rather, a healthcare issue.
He was joined by Attorney General William Tong, Commissioner Kurt Westby of the state Department of Labor, and Tim Irving, assistant regional administrator for cooperative and state programs for OSHA’s New England region.
The stand down was designed to create awareness, provide resources, and reduce the stigma involved with opioid use with the ultimate goal of preventing deaths from accidental overdoses.
Construction is one of many industries the growing opioid crisis affects.
Drug overdose deaths in Connecticut increased dramatically from 2012, when there were 357 deaths, to 2018, when 1,107 people died of an overdose.
Through the first six months of 2019, 544 people died of an overdose, state health officials said.
If that number holds true, Connecticut this year will eclipse the previous high of 1,038 deaths in 2017.
‘You Are Not Alone‘
The You Are Not Alone: There Is Help campaign includes a 24/7 toll-free treatment line, 800.563.4086.
John Hawley, president of Connecticut Associated General Contractors, noted that the rate of opioid-related deaths is higher in industries and occupations like construction with higher rates of work-related injuries.
“This is consistent with research documenting the use of prescribed opioids to manage acute and chronic pain after a work-related injury,” Hawley said.
He pointed to Massachusetts research showing that the opioid death rate for construction workers in that state was 125 per 100,000 people, five times higher than the average rate of 25 per 100,000 for all workers.
“The stand down is an opportunity for workers, construction companies, and their industry partners to have open conversations about opioid addiction, overdose prevention, and industry safety policies and goals,” Hawley said.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982)
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