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Construction industry ranks highest for heroin-, methadone-related overdose deaths: CDC

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Atlanta — Construction workers have the highest proportional mortality ratio for heroin- and methadone-related overdose deaths, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of 26 occupations shows.

Using 2007 to 2012 data from the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance program, researchers investigated 57,810 drug overdose deaths in 21 states. They found that construction workers had a 1.46 proportional mortality ratio for heroin-related deaths and a 1.34 proportional mortality rate for methadone-related deaths. A proportional mortality ratio greater than 1.0 indicates that the proportion of deaths in that occupation group is greater than the proportion in all other occupations combined.

 

Construction also ranked first (1.25) among all occupations in total drug overdose deaths, followed by health care support (1.18), extraction (1.16) and health care practitioners/technical (1.16).

Extraction occupations ranked first among natural and semisynthetic opioid-related overdose deaths (1.39) and prescription opioid-related overdose deaths (1.3). Health care practitioners/technical occupations led all workers in overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids other than methadone (1.81).

The researchers suggest employers implement workplace-specific programs and policies to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic.

A change in workers’ compensation laws and regulations regarding pain management and the prescribing and distribution of opioids already has made a difference. Since 2009, the study states, opioid use among nonsurgical workers has declined in 26 states, according to workers’ comp claims.

Among all drug overdose deaths, researchers note that the majority were male (61.8 percent), white (89.8) and between that ages of 45 and 54 (30.1).

The study results were published Aug. 24 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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