July 26 – 30 is Construction Opioid Awareness Week. Impairment is an issue all employers should be concerned with because approximately 75% of adults with a substance use disorder are in the workforce. Over 70,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2019, and opioids were involved in over 50,000 of those deaths.
In 2018, nearly 3,000 Pennsylvanians died of opioid overdoses according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Many construction workers are involved in very physically demanding jobs and may turn to medication for relief because they need to continue working. Additionally, twenty percent of all prescribed medications to the construction industry contain an opioid and some may not be educated on the potential dangers of the prescriptions.
There are many resources available to employers and also those in the construction industry. The National Safety Council has resources for all employers on its website and has an employer toolkit available for download: Opioid Use in the Workforce – National Safety Council (nsc.org)
Keystone Contractors Association (KCA) is supporting those who want to participate in Opioid Awareness Week by supplying resources and tools. Employers are encouraged to take the PA Opioid Pledge which can help bring much-needed attention to this issue. To take the pledge, employers release resolutions in support of opioid awareness campaigns, here are some proposed resolution statement ideas:
- Recognizing the last full week of July as Construction Opioid Awareness Week.
- Promoting awareness of the dangers of opioid and prescription drug abuse through education and discussions.
- Encouraging employees to dispose of leftover medications and to secure needed medications that remain in the home.
- Encouraging our employees to be community champions by talking to their children, families, and friends about risks related to drug misuse.
Additionally, employers should communicate with employees, stating support for opioid awareness week and offering resources and a supportive environment to employees. Employers could also provide warn me stickers which are stickers that go on insurance cards to remind patients to talk with their medical providers about the risks of opioids. Warn me stickers can be ordered here.
Finally, there are Toolbox talks available to employers who want to participate in the awareness campaign.
- Toolbox talks
- Monday, July 26 – Opioids Death in Construction
- Tuesday, July 27 – Discussing Prescription Opioid Painkillers with Your Doctor
- Wednesday, July 28 – Employee Assistance Program
- Thursday, July 29 – Understanding Opioid Pain Medication/ Know the Risks
- Friday, July 30 – Common Risks at Work Due to Opioid Painkiller Use
More information and toolkit resources can be found here.