Nearly a quarter of opioid overdose deaths attributable to construction workers

Massachusetts public health study finds pressure to work in pain contributes to problem.

August 16, 2018 |
Construction workers

Nearly a quarter of overdose deaths in a five-year period in Massachusetts occurred among construction workers, according to a report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The prevalence of workplace injuries in the industry is one factor causing addiction and overdoses. Also, pressure on employees to work in pain leads to workers taking addictive painkillers.

A lack of job security and sick pay were also linked to higher rates of overdose deaths. Other research has shown that injured workers are commonly prescribed opioid painkillers.

Construction workers were six times more likely to die from opioid overdoses than other workers in Massachusetts, the study said. The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, an advocacy group for workers, says that many workers face delays in the worker’s compensation system and take painkillers while waiting for care.

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