© steheap/Adobe Stock
© steheap/Adobe Stock

While safety initiatives in the construction industry used to be focused on fall protection and protective gear, many in the industry believe efforts now need to be geared towards suicide and substance abuse. A recent report from the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research at the NYU College of Global Public Health found construction workers were more likely to use opioids than workers in any other industry. To create awareness for the high rates of opioid use and overdose in the industry, construction sites across the state of Connecticut stopped work this past week to focus on addiction prevention and treatment, WNPR reports.

Kyle Zimmer, who is director of health and safety at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 478, joined state leaders and construction workers in Hartford, Conn., to launch a weeklong statewide campaign called Safety Stand-Down on Opioid Awareness and Prevention.

During the week, construction sites and companies throughout Connecticut stopped work for periods to focus on addiction prevention, treatment and awareness as the industry sees high rates of opioid use and overdoses.

Connecticut doesn’t collect industry-specific data, but the Massachusetts Department of Public Health looked at overdose data by occupation from 2011 through 2015. In a report last year, experts found that construction and extraction workers accounted for more than 24% of all opioid-related deaths among the working population. It also showed that these workers are, on average, six times more likely to suffer a fatal opioid overdose than other workers.

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