Why You Should Worry About Your Workers and the Opioid Crisis

November 1, 2019
medication bottles
Photo by Haley Lawrence on Unsplash

A builder is experiencing pain in her arm, gets a prescription, and finishes the recommended doses. But she doesn’t throw the extra pills out. The opioid crisis is hitting the construction industry hard. Experts say that workers in the construction industry are more likely to use prescription opioids and marijuana to deal with pain associated with the job. 

Construction workers and others handling heavy duty machinery in hazardous conditions are more likely to misuse prescription opioid medication and use cocaine than other workers, according to a study released Thursday.

Some 3.4% of workers in the construction, mining and extraction industries reported past month non-prescription opioid use, compared to a 2% usage rate for other professions, it found. Some 1.8% of those workers used cocaine compared to 0.8% for other jobs.

More than 12% also reported using marijuana during the past month, versus 7.5% for non-construction jobs. (More than 10 states allow recreational marijuana use and over 30 states authorized medical marijuana.)

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