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Build an effective plan to reduce addiction and overdose in your construction business.

Construction workers reviewing plans

State-level studies have found that construction workers are six to seven times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than workers in other professions. The physical demands of construction jobs are unavoidable. Pain, injury, and disability can lead to addiction and overdose. The loss of lives — not to mention the costs associated with the loss of safety, productivity, and retention — mandate a plan of action.

Drug overdoses are on the rise.

The top two industries for men who died of a drug overdose were the construction and the installation, maintenance, and repair industries.1

From 2011 to 2018, construction workers who died at work due to unintentional overdose increased about nine times, more than double the growth in all other industries.2

Nearly half of the overdose fatalities on construction worksites were caused by nonmedical drugs (47.3%).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Delaware is second in the nation for the per-capita rate of drug-related overdose deaths.

  1. 1 Drug overdose mortality surveillance report (2019)
  2. 2 Sue Dong, X., Brooks, R.D., Cain, C.T. (2019). Quarterly Data Report: Overdose Fatalities and Worksites and Opioid Use in the Construction Industry. CPWR.

Opioids in the Construction Industry

Workplaces are paying the price.

  • Safety

    Opioid use is associated with more injuries.

  • Absenteeism

    A loss of 50% more work time.

  • Loss of productivity

    Estimated to cost more than $400 billion.

  • Lower job retention

    Those with substance use or opioid use disorders change jobs more frequently than does the general workforce.

  • Higher health care spend

    Costs are three times higher for those who misuse prescription drugs.

Protect and support your employees with this toolkit.

You play an important role in saving lives through the adoption of workplace policies, training, and practices. This toolkit provides guidance and recommendations to help Delaware construction employers support their employees through prevention, treatment, and recovery from opioid misuse and opioid use disorder (OUD).

“Toolbox Talks” can be a first step.

Many construction sites already use Toolbox Talks to conduct training on OSHA requirements. This approach can be used to provide training, education, and resources to employees on substance misuse as well. Consider scheduling quarterly substance-related safety talks with the teams on the job site, which can include videos and other educational materials on impairment and substance use and misuse.

Advice for an effective safety Toolbox Talk:

  • Keep It Brief — Five to 15 minutes is a suitable amount of time to deliver a message without losing the attention of the audience.
  • Stay Focused — Stay on point to effectively deliver your message.
  • Be Relevant — Discuss topics that can be helpful to the workers.
  • Seek Engagement — Get the workers to prove they are listening by getting them involved (e.g., have them provide examples of the topics being discussed and allow for questions to be asked).
  • Get Total Buy-In — Teamwork improves safety, and everyone should be on alert.

The following is a recommendation of topics that touch on substance use and misuse:

  • Opioid deaths in the construction industry
  • Discussing prescription opioid painkillers with your health care provider
  • Employee assistance program
  • Understanding opioid pain medication — know the risks
  • Common risks at work due to opioid painkiller use

More info and guidance are available on toolkit fact sheets.

These downloadable fact sheets offer the key information you need to inform, support, and involve your employees in reducing substance use and misuse in your construction business. You will find modules that focus on education about opioids, communications training, naloxone training, drug testing strategies and policies, and much more. We recommend you review all of them and determine the best way to use the modules within your organization.

Download all fact sheets

Workplace communications keep the messaging going.

Internal communications play a key role in helping your employees know how to get help if they or someone they care about or work with is dealing with substance abuse. Posters, brochures, and even an app to offer directions on administering naloxone are available to use free of charge. You can download the construction-related print materials and view others at

Order free materials

More support resources are a click away.

Information from several publicly available resources related to substances in the workplace can provide additional context for you as an employer, as well as for your employees and their families.