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Construction Safety: Opioid Crisis

By Courtney M. Malveaux
  • September 21, 2018

When the White House declared the country in an opioid-addiction crisis back in October 2017, it was not news to the construction industry.

Job site hazards and strenuous activity mean that pain disproportionately afflicts construction workers, making them more susceptible to substance abuse, says the Itasca, Illinois-based National Safety Council (NSC). Even when used properly, side effects of opioids can include impairments such as sedation and dizziness, which are not conducive to maintaining safe job sites. The result is increased safety risks.

Further, the current labor shortage in the construction industry is expected to last another three years. A construction report by USG Corporation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce found decreases in worker and job site safety can name addiction and substance abuse issues as contributing factors. Almost 40 percent of contractors say they are highly concerned about the effects use of and addictions to opioids (followed by alcohol and marijuana, at 27 percent and 22 percent of contractors, respectively) have on worker safety.

Construction employers are considering managing the risk more aggressively by providing abuse-related educational programs and drug screening in support of workers’ efforts to seek rehabilitation. Some in the industry have even implemented random opioid testing, where, if an employee tests positive, they can keep their jobs upon completion of a treatment program. In addition, insurers suggest the construction industry employers explore partnering together to develop safety programs and guidelines that minimize or eliminate site-related accidents.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available if you have any questions about workplace safety and drug testing programs.

©2018 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

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