By: Ellie Romano


Twitter: @ERomanoABC6

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) - Construction workers in Rhode Island are dying at a higher rate than workers in any other profession as a result of the opioid epidemic. 

According to new data released by the Rhode Island Department of Health, nearly one in five fatal opioid overdoses was by someone in the construction field. 

The Dept. of Health studied the number of unintentional drug overdose deaths from July 2016 - June 2018. During that time, 974 people died from overdoses in Rhode Island. Nearly 25% of those deaths involved people in the construction and extraction industry. 

"I was shocked to see how high the number was," said Rachel Scagos, the Senior Public Health Epidemiologist for the Dept. of Health. 

Scagos presented the findings to the state's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force on Wednesday. 

Members of the task force said the findings are in line with a troubling national trend. 

Just last year, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released similar findings.

Since then, Boston unions have taken steps to make sure Narcan is available at construction sites and the workers are taught how to use it.

Members of Rhode Island's task force would like to take similar steps. 

"We have to be proactive about overdose prevention and treatment prevention and keep recovery in focus," said Traci Green, an expert advisor to the task force.

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