Study Shows Massachusetts Opioid Deaths Highest Among Construction Workers

Filed in Labor, Safety and Health by on August 9, 2018 0 Comments

Workers in the Massachusetts construction industry are six times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than the average worker, according to a report released Wednesday by the state Department of Public Health.

The report summarized the findings of a study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers examined the death certificates of everyone who died in the state of an opioid overdose from 2011 to 2015 with an occupation listed on the certificate.

“Construction and extraction” workers had an opioid overdose death rate of 150.6 deaths per 100,000 workers over the study period, with 1,096 deaths recorded, accounting for almost a quarter of all opioid-related deaths among the working population.

The report also highlighted specific jobs within the construction industry listed on death certificates:

Occupation Opioid overdose deaths
Number (% of construction deaths)
Construction laborers 374 (34.2%)
Carpenters 201 (18.4%)
Painters 92 (8.4%)
Pipe layers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters 66 (6.0%)
Roofers 64 (5.9%)
Electricians 62 (5.7%)
First-line supervisors of construction workers 59 (5.3%)
Brick masons, block masons, and stone masons 39 (3.6%)
Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers 20 (1.8%)
Construction equipment operators 19 (1.7%)
Sheet metal workers 11 (1.0%)
Insulation workers 10 (0.9%)
Structural iron and steel workers 10 (0.9%)
All others 69 (6.3%)
Total 1,096 (100%)

Other industries related to home building also had elevated rates of overdose deaths, including material moving – which includes crane operators – and installation, maintenance and repair occupations.

More troubling than the actual results of the study is the implication that the problem may be worse. Nearly three years has passed since the closing of the study period, and all signs point to the opioid crisis accelerating since then.

Also, while Massachusetts does have a higher rate of opioid abuse than the national average, some states have a much more severe problem.

NAHB leaders recognize the extent of the nation’s opioid epidemic and understand the home building industry is not immune to the effects of the epidemic because addiction and overdose deaths do not discriminate.

NAHB has formed an Opioid Working Group to respond to this unfulfilled need and provide a private-sector slate of helpful resources and possible solutions to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic’s reach into the home building industry, which would complement what government and health care are doing.

For more information on the NAHB Opioid Working Group, contact David Jaffe at 202-266-8317.

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