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Construction Safety: New Initiatives to Prevent Fatal Overdoses in Construction

In response to the high rate of fatal overdoses in the construction industry, New York City health and building departments will be conducting educational outreach at construction sites, per a recent press release.

Survey data revealed that at least 269 construction workers died of an overdose in 2020 — the highest of any occupation in NYC. This troubling information prompted Health Department officials to take preventative action against substance abuse, beginning with direct outreach at major work sites. Staff from the city’s Health and Building Departments will be discussing the dangers of fentanyl, how to prevent overdoses with Naloxone, and how to avoid injury on construction sites.

"Construction professionals and their families should know that their city is not closing the book on those in crisis," said NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo in the press release. “We know that an injury on the construction site is sometimes just the first chapter of a tragedy, and along with our partners at the Health Department we are committed to promoting the safety of our fellow New Yorkers, both on and off the construction site. Through mandatory drug and alcohol awareness classes to qualify for site safety training cards, and direct outreach on major work sites, we are letting the industry know that help is available.”

Data from 2021 shows an unprecedented rise in fatal overdoses in NYC, with fentanyl responsible for over 80% of deaths. With the high risks, it’s important to remain aware of the health and safety of construction workers, who keep this city running.

The DOB requires all construction workers in NYC to partake in at least 40 hours of Site Safety Training (SST) courses offered by approved training providers. SST includes a 2-hour drug and alcohol awareness class, which warns about the risks of chemical dependence and covers the hazards of being impaired while working on a construction site. Due to recent prevention efforts, the DOB will now be requiring pre-shift discussions of drug and alcohol safety every day, highlighting the lives lost to overdoses in the construction industry. Officials hope these talks will spread awareness and prevent potential tragedies.

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See the resources below for more information on NYC overdose prevention initiatives.