The Opioid Epidemic's Impact on the Construction Industry

Posted by on 14 June 2018 | 0 Comments

Substance abuse does not discriminate based on profession, age, sex, financial status, race or location.   The disease has created a significant impact in the workplace and it is costing employers billions in productivity, lost wages, and a labor shortage.  According to a 2017 report by CNA, the construction industry is at the top of the list of industries affected by the epidemic.  “The construction industry is no stranger to the devastating effects of opioid abuse. In fact, a 2017 study revealed that construction workers are among the most susceptible to opioid abuse, second only to food service industry employees. Business insurance agent CNA estimates 15.1% of construction workers have used legal or illegal drugs illicitly.”

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“However, few construction company officials will talk openly about the issue, fearing a negative image for their firms and potentially higher insurance rates.

The epidemic poses a significant risk not only to construction workers, but the companies that employ them, others working on a jobsite, and even passersby. Rather than turn a blind eye to at-risk employees or a worker who might be struggling, though, companies can take preventative measures and offer help — measures that can mean the difference in accidents on a jobsite and hefty punitive damages.” (Construction Drive Magazine, Jan 2018)

According to the August 4, 2017 issue of Remodeling Magazine “The impact of increasing numbers of Americans addicted to painkillers and other drugs has resulted in lower labor force participation, particularly among Americans who have less than a four-year college degree,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the NAHB. “This makes recruiting more workers into the trades that much harder.” 

NORC at the University of Chicago (an objective non-partisan research institution), in conjunction with the National Safety Council (NSC) and non-profit Shatterproof, unveiled a tool earlier this year that provides business leaders with information about the cost of substance use—including prescription drug abuse and misuse, alcohol abuse and misuse, opioid and heroin addiction as well as abuse of other illicit drugs, and marijuana—in their workplace based on number of employees, industry, and state. “The Real Cost of Substance Use to Employers” tool uses data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

For example, according to the tool, a construction company in Florida with 150 employees loses $57,387 each year due to employee substance use—$22,848 in lost time, $18,417 in job turnover and retraining, and $16,122 in health care costs.

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It is time for business owners in the construction industry to consider the impact of the opioid crisis is having on their employees and their business. These numbers are staggering. Our organization, Power Forward, was formed to help individuals and businesses in connecting with the right people as they navigate the waters to seek help.  Power Forward has established a network of providers, speakers, and clinicians who are always available for support. 

Power Forward Inc is a 501c3 MA organization that was founded by local hockey legend Kevin Stevens, Andy Bernstein, and Kelli Wilson.   Our mission is to use the power of media, outreach, and community events to help end the stigma behind substance misuse disorder.  We focus on 4 key pillars:

  1. Prevention
  2. Education
  3. Recovery
  4. Hope

Under the Power Forward umbrella, we have established the Kevin Stevens Crosscheck Substance Abuse Radio show.  This is a weekly Boston radio show that is dedicated to the discussion of the disease.  The show features well-known local and national guests, along with a host of resources.  Additionally, Power Forward also produces events such as drug take-back days, and numerous public speaking events for the community. A major component of our organizational mission is to reach the business community with our message.  I am thrilled to be a returning member of EM NARI and look forward to reconnecting with you!


Andrew Bernstein, Executive Director
Power Forward

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