Articles Tagged with Opioid addiction

Massachusetts construction companies are focusing on the risks created by opioid use and addiction and the role these drugs play in work injuries.

The Massachusetts chapter of Associated General Contractors sponsored a statewide opioid awareness day on June 5, to draw attention to the impact the opioid crisis is having on the construction industry in New England. Workplace overdoses have increased by 25 percent each year for the last 5 years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unintentional overdose is now responsible for 5 percent of all workplace deaths, claiming nearly 300 lives each year.

Opioid addiction was declared a public health emergency in 2017, after the Centers for Disease Control reported opioid deaths surpassed motor-vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. However, construction workers face some of the highest risks.  Construction workers are at six times greater risk that the average Massachusetts worker, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and now account for 25 percent of workplace opioid deaths. Boston Workers' Comp

AGC has produced a manual to help contractors identify and mitigate the use of opioids at construction sites. Common signs include constricted or “pinpoint pupils,” falling asleep or losing consciousness, slow or shallow breathing, choking or gurgling sounds, blue or cold skin, and limp extremities.

Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers know many construction workers become addicted to painkillers while seeking legitimate treatment for work-related injuries. In some cases, a doctor or medical professional may have inappropriately prescribed potent narcotics for too long a period of time. In other cases, a medical professional may withhold or eliminate a patient’s access to pain medication, forcing injured or addicted workers to turn to street narcotics to manage the pain. Prescription opioids may include hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine, while illicit opioids most commonly include heroin and fentanyl.

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Opioid addiction has become a major epidemic in Boston and across the U.S.  It is also become a hot topic for politicians and media outlets. While Massachusetts has long suffered from a major problem with heroin addiction,  many times it begins with workers injured on the job who start taking painkillers such as opioids like Vicodin and Oxycontin.  Once these injured workers become hooked on painkillers, the habit is often very difficult kick, even once the drugs are no longer medically necessary to fight the pain from the initial injury.

Boston workers' compensation lawyerIn an effort to address this issue, as discussed in a recent news article from the Union Leader, New Hampshire is looking to follow Massachusetts’ lead with respect to the two-year pilot program they started to get injured workers off dangerous and addictive opioids.  Continue reading