Construction workers open up about impacts of opioid epidemic
By: Ellie Romano
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) - Construction companies are fighting the opioid epidemic, after startling statistics revealed those in the construction field are dying at the highest rate from opioid overdoses.
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.
"I've seen a lot of people in the industry affected by this one way or another," said Dennis Mullen, the Safety Director at Gilbane Building Company's New England division.
Mullen has been in the construction industry for 22 years and has seen the impacts of the opioid epidemic.
"It's really over the past 6–7 years that it's started to grow and become more of a problem," said Mullen.
Construction workers make up nearly 25% of the state's fatal overdoses. Mullen believes the overdose rate is higher in construction because injuries are common in his line of work.
"Back a number of years ago, there was a real predisposition to prescribe opioids for things that were relatively minor injuries that might not have needed it," said Mullen. "I think that's what led people down a path to addiction."
Industry members are now working to lower the statistic.
"One of the ways we can reduce dependents on opioids is working together to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place on construction sites," said Mullen.
Gilbane has installed naloxone kits at all of its construction sites and has trained staff on how to administer the life-saving drug.
© WLNE-TV 2019