The Silent Killer On The Job Site: Inside Construction’s Battle With Opioids

By on November 7, 2017

From Forbes:  The American opioid crisis was declared a national public health emergency Thursday, but the U.S. construction industry does not seem ready to take action regarding its own significant role in the deadly epidemic.

The trillion-dollar industry has been hit harder than almost any other sector of the economy in a health crisis that takes nearly 100 American lives each day. But it has been largely silent, more concerned about perception than the number of workers who are addicted to opioids.

Bisnow reporters reached out to — and were rejected by — 17 construction companies and workers at 27 construction sites nationwide. Only two executives were willing to speak on the record. Most explained away silence as not a sign of denial, but of fear over insurance hikes or not wanting to give the illusion they were operating “dirty” sites.

Nearly everyone agreed it was a problem with a solution bigger than one entity could handle, a problem they feel the industry needs to step up and tackle.

“This issue has come home to our front doors,” Suffolk CEO John Fish said. “Each member of the community needs to see this is at their front door.”

Boston-based Suffolk is one of the country’s largest construction firms, with an annual revenue of $3.3B, Fish said, and offices in Florida, California, New York and Texas. Suffolk’s headquarters is steps away from a stretch of Boston known locally as “Methadone Mile.”

Every day, hundreds of people line the sidewalks of this neighborhood. The area is known for a spate of methadone clinics steps away from the city’s pre-eminent bazaar for illicit drugs. Some of those seeking treatment in Methadone Mile or overdosing across the country work in construction.

Developers and construction company owners, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Bisnow there is a problem in the industry, and it has made reliable labor an unattainable commodity across the country.

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