On June 5, 50 construction project sites from Boston to Springfield held work stoppages as the industry grapples with the alarming rate of fatal opioid overdoses among construction workers. During the stoppage, the Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts led opioid-focused talks at the sites to raise awareness about the problem.
This comes shortly after a noteworthy April 25 report that detailed on-the-job deaths in Massachusetts. Completed by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (Mass COSH) and Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the report brought to light the staggering number of construction worker fatalities caused by opioid overdoses. Additionally, between 2011 and 2015, one in four fatal Massachusetts worker opioid overdoses were construction workers.
It has been well-established that the construction industry is one of the most dangerous to work in. The injury rate for construction industry workers is 77 percent higher than the national average, and construction deaths accounted for over one in three work-related fatalities in Massachusetts in 2018. As a result of these injuries, addictive opioids are prescribed to those experiencing acute or chronic pain. Today, opioid addiction has become so prevalent in the industry hat construction workers are six times more likely to have a fatal overdose than workers from other industries.
The aging workforce and heavy physical demands of the industry are likely contributing factors to construction workers’ high rate of opioid abuse. This makes it clear that implementing safer working conditions, thus having fewer injuries, should be a top priority in the field. In other words, reducing the number of injuries would subsequently reduce the opioid prescriptions and overdoses.
This epidemic is not isolated to Massachusetts alone. Between 2010 and 2016, Ohio construction workers were seven times more likely to die from opioid overdoses than other industries’ workers. Ultimately, it is apparent that this is an epidemic within the construction industry that needs to be addressed immediately. Hopefully, initiatives such as the work stoppage are a step in the right direction to do so.
If you have been injured on a construction site, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible following the incident. Contact our team of Boston construction accident lawyers today for a free consultation to see how we can help restore your health and peace of mind.
A partner at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP in Boston, J. Tucker Merrigan represents individual clients throughout all of Massachusetts and the United States—concentrating his practice on cases that involve personal injury, defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, wrongful death, premises liability, products liability, medical malpractice, and insurance law. Known for strong client relationships and positive results, Merrigan has been named a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorney by National Trial Lawyers from 2015-2018 and named Super Lawyer Rising Star for 2018.