Recent reports suggest that construction workers are more susceptible to substance abuse because of the physical nature of the work. Injury rates for construction workers are 77 percent higher than other occupations. Workers return to work before their bodies are completely healed because of the need for income. They are either forced to return to work or lose their jobs. Unfortunately, this has led to opioid abuse. According to the National Safety Council’s 2017 Survey on Drug Use and Substance Abuse, 15 percent of construction workers battle substance abuse. This number is almost twice the national average.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 115 workers suffer from opioid overdoses each day. A study by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health stated that construction workers in were six times more likely to suffer fatal injuries from opioid abuse than other workers in the state of Massachusetts. Other research has shown that injured workers suffer fatal injuries from drugs more often than suicide. Women working in health care and food preparation also had high rates of overdose, compared to other professions.
Pain and Addiction Challenges for Construction Workers
The need to return to work quickly is not only an issue with physical recovery time, but presents challenges when workers need to attend doctor visits or support-group meetings. Another challenge is readily available drugs at work sites. Medical directors at facilities have had patients report that they are able to obtain drugs at work. When workers are injured, there are people at construction sites that have available pills. Other times, struggling workers tend to take on temporary construction jobs. The availability of drugs at work make it difficult for workers that are in recovery.
Ways to Decrease Opioid Fatalities
To reduce the high rate of opioid abuse fatalities, the construction industry should:
- Ensure job safety for construction workers
- Allow injured workers enough time for rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Provide paid sick leave
- Provide health insurance options that cover substance abuse and mental health treatment
- Educate employees about how to use prescription opioids responsibly
- Adopt new health plan policies that limit the dosage of opioid medications
- Encourage the use of anti-inflammatory medications for chronic injuries
- Organize recovery support construction teams
Allegheny County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers of AlpernSchubert P.C. Represent Workers Injured in Construction Accidents
If you were injured in a construction accident, contact a Allegheny County Workers’ Compensation lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C. today for legal representation. Conveniently located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including all of Allegheny County, Washington County, and Lawrence County. Contact us online or at 412-765-1888 for a free consultation.