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Overdose deaths hitting Massachusetts workplaces hard: report

Photo: Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Boston — Unintentional overdoses accounted for more than 1 out of 4 workplace deaths in Massachusetts between 2021 and 2022, the state’s Department of Public Health reports.

For its Massachusetts Fatal Injuries at Work report, DPH used data from its Occupational Health Surveillance Program.

Since 2016, overdoses have been the leading cause of workplace fatalities in Massachusetts, with the average age of victims being 44.

Over the two years examined for the report, 47 people died on the job because of an unintentional overdose, making up 26.4% of the 178 workplace deaths in the state over that period. That compared with 9.3% nationally.

The second leading cause of workplace deaths in the state was suicide (25), followed by roadway crash (21), fall to a lower level (19), pedestrian incident (14), and struck by a falling object or equipment (12).

Other findings:

  • The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry had the highest fatal workplace injury rate, with 36.8 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers. Landscaping (14.9), transportation (10.9) and utilities (10.9) followed.
  • The workers were predominantly male (89.9%) and ranged in age from 16 to 86.
  • 68% of the workers were white non-Hispanic.

DPH encourages employers to engage in the state’s fatal injury prevention programs and activities, such at The BeHERE initiative. It provides training resources on opioids, pain prevention and recovery-supportive workplaces.

Other offerings from the department include online resources such as its Suicide Prevention Program, the MassMen initiative to provide life tools for men and a suicide prevention resource guide for construction workers.

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