Construction workers have one of the highest risk of suffering from personal injury during their activity. According to the National Safety Council, more than 70,000 construction workers are injured every year in the US with back injuries and hand injuries being the most common. Nearly all construction workers will suffer at least one occupation related injury during their lifetime. Researchers also found that a construction worker that has a career longer than 45 years has a 75% risk of suffering a disabling injury.
Therefore it is not surprising that construction workers are being prescribed a lot of opioids to treat the pain caused by these injuries.
Usually workers receive compensation during the time that they are injured but it is often not enough to make up for lost pay. Therefore many injured construction workers are using opioids to get back to work faster.
Construction workers are 7 times more likely than any other workers to die from an overdose
Long term use of opioids can lead to addiction. CDC Statistics indicate that 1 out of 4 people prescribed opioids to treat long term pain, developed an addiction. Addiction to opioids is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. In 2016 42,000 people died in the US from opioid overdose. More than half of them had previously sustained an injury at work.
Recently the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) published new resources to help fight this epidemic. Employers and Contractors can download a one page hazard alert featuring advice for construction workers to fight opioids deaths. Avoiding to get injured by respecting safe work practices is obliviously the best way to avoid addiction. Construction workers who are injured should talk to their doctor about the risk of getting addicted. Doctors and construction workers should find out if other less addictive medications could help and also if other forms of pain management such as acupuncture or physical therapy might help as well. The CPWR also provides a phone number where construction workers can call confidentially to get help.
All the CPWR resources can be found here