Washington University in St. Louis recently published comprehensive resources to help construction company owners and managers develop or expand programs to prevent opioid addiction among their workers.
The resources were developed in a partnership between Washington University and the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest at the University of Iowa and are available at OpioidsAndConstruction.com.
The researchers noted that workers in the construction industry are particularly susceptible to opioid misuse. Some workers, including young workers, seek medical treatment and are commonly prescribed opioids to relieve their pain. Having limited to no sick leave for recovery and poor job security can lead to workers coming to work when in pain and possibly under the influence of painkillers.
But a formal, structured program can help prevent misuse. The guidelines lay out the essential elements of an effective prevention program, including:
- Build a culture of care: Starts with a sincere belief from leadership that a healthy and empowered workforce is more productive and committed.
- Educate employees on the risks of opioids
- Train supervisors on managing workplace substance misuse
- Healthcare insurance and pharmacy coverage
- Employee assistance program (EAP)
Researchers pointed to a number of existing training resources, including those created by NAHB. Staff at NAHB also provided feedback on the guidelines for researchers.
The residential construction industry has been paying more attention to the overall wellbeing of workers. In addition to the initiative on opioid and other drug addiction, NAHB has partnered to produce mental health and wellbeing resources for construction professionals.
NAHB’s media partner, Pro Builder magazine, recently covered the elevated rate of suicides among construction workers, highlighting the efforts of NAHB and local HBAs.
As it becomes increasingly difficult to attract new workers to the construction trades, home builders will need to be more comfortable about shifting the culture of in the industry around mental health and drug addiction.