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Opioid addiction crisis and construction workers' accidents

Analysis of the 12,000 deaths resulting from opioid overdoses in Ohio between 2010 and 2016 revealed that construction workers are particularly at risk of becoming addicted to painkillers containing opiods. The addictions of many workers started with the painkillers being prescribed by doctors after injuries were suffered in construction workers' accidents. Authorities say the painkillers were misleadingly marketed as a safe solution to dull the pain of workers and keep the jobs on schedule. However, it led to thousands of workers' addictions to fentanyl and heroin.

Before opioids were introduced to the market, doctors only prescribed strong opiates like morphine for sufferers of acute trauma or cancer. Construction work involves the hauling of wire coils, bricks and massive beams, and the repetitive swinging of hammers for hours on end, which are only examples of the activities that wear down the bodies of these workers over time. When the pain becomes overbearing, co-workers might provide a few painkillers, and workers' compensation doctors will prescribe more to dull chronic pain in the knees, shoulders and lower backs of victims of overexertion.

Data of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation indicates that after the introduction of opioids in 2010, medications like Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin were freely prescribed to construction workers because drugmakers claimed the addiction rates were minimal. However, the truth is that an opioid epidemic was started. Some workers routinely take opioids to dull the pain so that they can avoid taking unpaid time off work, which would make it more difficult for them to meet their financial obligations.

BWC started an initiative last October that offers rehabilitative help to workers who were prescribed opioids at habit-forming levels. Those who have open claims after injuries suffered in construction workers' accidents could qualify to take part in an addiction treatment program of 18 months. Workers in similar situations may seek the support and guidance of an experienced Ohio workers' compensation attorney to assist with the navigation of claims to receive this and other benefits.

Source: cleveland.com, "Ohio construction workers seven times more likely to die of an opioid overdose in 2016", Rachel Dissell, Accessed on Feb. 3, 2018

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