Pennsylvania’s Keystone Contractors Association is launching its first event drawing awareness to opioid issues. The event comes as the issue becomes acute both nationally and within the state—with construction more closely affected than other industries.
Pennsylvania’s construction industry is facing an opioid crisis of its own—and one of the state’s leading trade groups is speaking up about it in a prominent way.
Next week, the Keystone Contractors Association (KCA) is hosting Construction Opioid Awareness Week. The event, formally designated by a Pennsylvania House resolution last month, aims to draw attention to a problem that disproportionately affects those in the construction trade—the abuse of opioids.
The approach, says Executive Director Jon O’Brien, is built out of a sense of immediacy, as he’s seen the problem firsthand at multiple construction sites over the past two years.
“I remember going to back-to-back meetings at different sites, and both owners had a story about a promising young apprentice who died of a heroin overdose,” O’Brien told The Morning Call.
The newspaper’s report noted that the opioid problem is making it difficult to hire young workers, who struggle to pass drug tests.
O’Brien saw an opportunity to get ahead of the issue, so KCA reached out to state Rep. Jason Ortitay, who sponsored the House resolution.
As part of the weeklong program, the association is calling on members to hold onsite discussions on the danger of opioids, is handing out stickers to employees to put on their insurance cards that encourage medical professionals to warn when medicine contains opioids, and is encouraging employers to make their corporate offices drug take-back locations, something KCA is pledging to assist with.
“We want to make sure our people know there are alternatives to opioids, and give them support if they are having a problem,” O’Brien told the newspaper.
The issue is gaining increased notice nationwide. Earlier this year, North America’s Building Trades Unions launched a task force on opioid abuse, with recommendations that included improving design around hazards that cause pain for construction workers.