Construction workers use opioid pain relievers more than any other workers.
Spending on these prescription painkillers is 5% to 10% higher in construction than in all other industries combined, according to a CNA Financial report in the publication, 2015 Risk Outlook: Construction: Prescription Opioid Abuse Risk Factors and Solutions. The report was released earlier in 2015.
Liz Griggs, chief executive of Canterbury Healthcare, a San Francisco-based healthcare and workers' compensation insurance company, says workers compensation claims for the construction industry exceed $10 billion.
“Because of this, the construction industry has to really start looking at prevention programs,” Griggs says. “The benefits of having a prevention program in place far outweighs [the cost of] dealing with the back end of someone getting addicted to opioids.”
Construction workers who are daily involved with lifting, kneeling for long stretches, climbing and reaching in what can be challenging spaces, are especially at risk for prescription opioid abuse. “It is estimated that 15.1% of construction workers across various specializations have engaged in illicit drug use, including both illegal and legal prescription drugs” the report states.
Half of the $60 billion spend annually on opioid pain relievers are attributed to workplace costs.
The report recommends employers combat opioid abuse through prevention programs that include educating employees about responsible use of prescription opioids, communicating risk factors and providing support and safe return-to-work procedures for injured employees.