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Construction workers badly affected by the opioid crisis

construction workers65 construction workers died from unintentional overdose while on the job in the US in 2018 compared to respectively 48, 32, 27, 18, 17, 7 and 7 in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. These deaths represent more than a quarter of the 305 overdose fatalities at workplaces recorded for all industries in the US in 2018. The construction industry is one of the most affected industries by the opioid crisis in the US.

In its recently published Quarterly Data Report, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) provides an in-depth analysis of the dramatic increase of unintentional overdose fatalities on american construction sites.


The report found that a disproportionate amount of these type of fatalities occur in the North East part of the US and that victims are mostly white non-Hispanic. Self employed construction workers or those working for residential construction sites are the most at risk of dying from unintentional overdose. Workers aged 24 year old to 54 year old suffered the most fatalities.


Despite the high number of injuries in the construction industry, the percentage of prescribed opioid use is lower among construction workers than among workers of all industries combined. However illicit opioid use is higher in the construction industry than in other major industry sectors.  Many construction workers do not have health insurance compared to workers in other industries and as a result they might self medicate.  Additionally the highly addictive nature of opioids can also lead to abuse. On construction sites, almost 50% of the overdose fatalities were related to non medical drugs, another quarter of them were related to a mix of various drugs and alcohol. 20% of them were related to medicines.

While the data reported only covers deaths on work sites, it is important to remember that this number only represents a small fraction of all fatalities related to overdose among the construction workers population.

The entire report can be downloaded here 

The CPWR is also having a free webinar this afternoon to present the results of the report and explain what resources and efforts are deployed to address this issue.  Anyone interested can register here