More than 15% of construction workers across specializations have used illegal drugs or abused prescription medications, leading to longer post-injury absences and higher recovery costs, according to report by property and casualty insurance company CNA.
The number of prescriptions for painkillers filled by construction workers is consistently 5% to 10% higher than for employees of other industries, according to the company’s report, "2015 Risk Outlook: Construction—Prescription Opioid Abuse."
Among the most-filled prescription painkillers for construction workers are OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.
Injured construction workers who abuse painkillers not only take longer to return to work, but they increase their risk — and their co-workers’ risk — of additional injuries once they are back on the job, CNA reported.
One solution, the company proposed, is educating employees about the dangers of abusing narcotic painkillers and the likelihood that they could become addicted to them. Another is to train supervisors about how to create a strong network of supportive co-workers who can help an injured worker return to the job safely.