Opioid‐related overdose deaths by industry and occupation—Massachusetts, 2011‐2015

Source: Devan Hawkins, Cora Roelofs, James Laing, Letitia Davis, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, July 26, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:

Thousands of people in the United States continue to die from opioid overdoses every year. Work‐related injuries and other factors associated with work may increase exposure to opioids and, subsequently, opioid‐related overdose deaths (OROD). This study sought to determine whether OROD rates differed by industry and occupation and explored work‐related factors that might contribute to these differences.

We coded industry and occupation information on death certificates for all OROD among Massachusetts residents from 2011 to 2015. We estimated rates of OROD by industry and occupation using Massachusetts employment data. National survey data were used to explore whether work‐related factors known to vary by occupation (occupational injury and illness, job insecurity, and paid sick leave) correlate to observed differences in OROD.

Several industries and occupation groups had rates of OROD that were significantly higher than the rates for other workers. Construction workers and fishing workers stood out for having OROD rates many times higher than the average for all workers. Occupation groups with high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses, high job insecurity, and low availability of paid sick leave had higher rates of OROD.

These findings underscore the need for policy and educational interventions to reduce OROD tailored to the needs of high rate worker populations. Interventions should address workplace hazards that cause injuries for which opioids are prescribed, as well as best practices in medical management and return to work following injury, safer prescribing, enhanced access to treatment for opioid use disorders, and overdose prevention education.