The opioid crisis has resulted in the death of thousands of Americans recently. As Jacksonville construction lawyers, we know that no industry has been impacted by these tragic overdoses more than the construction sector. According to one study, approximately 15 percent of construction workers have a substance abuse problem. However, the problem goes beyond the worker’s personal life. The opioid crisis presents safety concerns in the workplace and costs construction companies billions of dollars annually due to health care expenses and production costs as well.
In this four-part article, we will discuss the impact that the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs has had on the construction industry. In the second, third, and fourth sections, we will offer some preventive solutions to this problem. Remember, if you have a construction-related legal issue, contact a Jacksonville construction lawyer today.
Soaring Drug Sales
With pharmaceutical drug sales skyrocketing in the last twenty years, access to painkillers has been streamlined to the general public. With chronic pain issues, challenging manual labor needs, and a much higher injury rate than most other professions, construction workers have a higher likelihood of needing opioids to alleviate their pain than most other professionals. In addition, construction workers are more prone to abusing opioids than nearly any other industry. When you combine the need and greater likelihood to abuse these drugs, it’s not surprising that construction workers are much more likely to suffer an overdose death than workers in any other industry as well.
The Modern Day Construction Worker
Over the last 30 years, the average age of a construction worker has increased significantly. Today, the average worker is approximately 41 years of age. However, nearly half of the industry’s workforce is within the “baby boomer” age range of being born between 1945 and 1964. When construction professionals reach their 40s, it simply becomes more challenging for them to quickly heal and perform their daily tasks. Many try to alleviate this pain and fight through injuries with opioids. This can quickly become an addiction.
Mental Health Problems
With a significant skills gap in the workforce and a need to reach deadlines, older workers are often required to perform physically demanding tasks. However, the use of opioids doesn’t just stop at alleviating the pain. There’s an industry-wide concern and an unfortunate connection between construction professionals and mental health problems. As we will continue to discuss in the next section of this article series, it’s critical that contractors and other construction workers monitor their coworkers’ behavior and provide them with the help they need if they detect substance abuse problems in the workplace.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.