- City agencies in New York are taking proactive measures to address the alarming trend of overdose deaths among construction workers, according to a New York City Department of Buildings release.
- Staff from the Health and Building departments will be visiting construction sites to educate workers on substance abuse, the dangers of fentanyl, proper use of naloxone for overdose prevention and overall work site safety.
- At least 269 construction workers died of an overdose in 2020, by far the most of any occupation included in the analysis, according to the release. The initiative aims to directly provide critical information to construction workers to enhance their safety both on and off construction sites.
The decision to target the construction industry follows data revealing construction workers accounted for the highest number of overdose deaths among various occupational groups.
That mirrors national trends, as construction workers remain particularly susceptible to fatal overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The construction industry’s 162.6 deaths per 100,000 workers were significantly higher than the 117.9 in food preparation and serving-related occupations, which had the second highest rate, according to the CDC.
“We know that an injury on the construction site is sometimes just the first chapter of a tragedy, and along with our partners at the Health Department we are committed to promoting the safety of our fellow New Yorkers, both on and off the construction site,” said Jimmy Oddo, DOB commissioner. “Through mandatory drug and alcohol awareness classes to qualify for site safety training cards, and direct outreach on major work sites, we are letting the industry know that help is available.”
DOB requires all construction workers on the larger and more complex work sites in New York City to complete at least 40 hours of site safety training courses provided by a DOB-approved training provider. The training also requires construction workers to take a two-hour drug and alcohol awareness class, in order to learn about the harms associated with chemical dependence and how it may adversely affect lives.
To date, a total of 335,244 individuals in the construction industry have taken the drug and alcohol awareness class as part of their mandated safety training requirement. DOB will also conduct outreach to contractors and site safety professionals in the city, asking construction firms to include drug and alcohol safety information during morning meetings.