Drug Overdoses in the Construction Industry – A Growing Problem
Drug overdoses in the construction industry are on the rise. City agencies are taking proactive measures to combat fatal overdoses in the construction industry, responding to survey data indicating construction workers lead occupational groups in overdose deaths. The City’s Health and Buildings Departments are issuing alerts within the construction sector, highlighting the lethal risks of substance abuse. This outreach emphasizes preventive measures and tools available to avert fatal overdoses. Departments will conduct on-site visits, discussing substance abuse risks, dangers of fentanyl, and Naloxone use to prevent fatalities. This comprehensive approach targets work site safety, empowering workers with essential information for their safety, both on and off-site.
“New York City is facing a deadly opioid crisis, necessitating comprehensive strategies to ensure New Yorkers’ safety,” stated Mayor Eric Adams. The City is committed to educating construction workers on substance use disorders, supporting them to combat this pressing issue.
Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan stressed the importance of spreading prevention messages across homes, communities, and workplaces. Workers in construction face potential risks, underscoring the City’s commitment to their safety, thanks to efforts from the Buildings Department.
Commissioner Jimmy Oddo from the NYC Department of Buildings reiterated their dedication to supporting professionals in crisis situations. The City acknowledges the potential tragedy following on-site injuries, affirming their commitment to safety promotion, on-site and beyond. Mandatory drug and alcohol awareness classes complement this endeavor, ensuring safety training card qualifications and direct outreach on major worksites.
According to Health Department statistics, in 2020, at least 269 construction workers succumbed to overdoses, outstripping fatalities in other occupations. National data by the US Centers for Disease Control echoes this trend, emphasizing construction’s vulnerability to fatal overdoses.
The Health Department’s review of fatal overdose data revealed the most common job for overdose victims was in the “Construction and Extraction” field, consistent across all ethnic groups.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides free programs for overdose recognition and response, offering Naloxone kits and fentanyl test strips at no cost. City-run medication for opioid use disorder programs is accessible through the NYC Health Map. Syringe Service Programs offer harm reduction resources and help connect with treatment and other vital resources.
To address the unprecedented rise in fatal overdoses, the Health Department highlighted the presence of fentanyl in 80% of drug overdose deaths. The unregulated supply of fentanyl significantly elevates overdose risks, found alongside heroin or illicitly manufactured pills.
The Department of Buildings emphasizes safety on construction sites, mandating educational training on alcohol and drug use. A 40-hour Site Safety Training (SST) course includes a 2-hour drug and alcohol awareness class, educating workers on hazards and substance use disorders. Over 335,244 individuals in the construction industry have completed this mandatory training.
Additionally, the DOB encourages contractors and safety professionals to include drug and alcohol safety information during daily pre-shift “tool box talks,” emphasizing overdose prevention in response to the tragic loss of construction industry members to fatal overdoses each year.
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