Opioid crisis: Workplace overdoses soar 12% in US

Workplace drug overdoses and suicides in the US soared 12% and 11% respectively in 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported this week.

The rise in overdoses is the sixth consecutive annual increase and a reflection of the opioid crisis in the US, OSHA said, releasing its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Report on 17 December. 

The census did not single out construction, but last month a study from New York University found that construction workers are more likely to use drugs than workers in other occupations.

Analysing 10 years of data, the study showed that construction workers are the most likely of all occupations to take prescription opioids for nonmedical purposes.

While OSHA’s figures are alarming, the census also showed a 14% decline in work-related fatal falls from heights, with 2018’s total the lowest since 2013.

And the rate of fatal work injuries in 2018 remained unchanged from the previous year.

US President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a National Health Emergency in October 2017.

OSHA and the National Safety Council have released a toolkit to help employers address opioid abuse and support workers in recovery.

OSHA has also created a webpage with confidential resources to help identify warning signs of suicide.

Photograph: President and First Lady Trump receive a policy update on the opioid crisis at the White House on 12 June 2019 (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks/Public domain)

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