Opioid Abuse Rises in Construction, Manufacturing Sectors: CNA

July 20, 2015

Prescription Pills and Medicine Medication Drugs. Prescription Pills and Medicine Medication Drugs

CNA recently issued two new reports that examine the growing prescription opioid abuse epidemic and its effect on the U.S. workforce, focusing on the construction and manufacturing industries, which are particularly at risk for such abuse.

The reports, Construction: Prescription Opioid Abuse and Manufacturing: Prescription Opioid Abuse, use CNA claim data to provide risk management strategies to address this issue.

“The opioid abuse epidemic is taking a toll on many aspects of the U.S. economy, including businesses’ workers’ compensation losses,” said Bill Boyd, senior vice president, Risk Control. “The delay of returning injured employees to work can affect operations and, therefore, negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Opioid abuse is a real and emerging risk for businesses to consider, and through these Risk Outlooks, I hope our customers will learn solutions to avoid return-to-work pitfalls.”

Between 2009 and 2013, the percentage spent on opioids in the construction industry remained stable, at about 20 percent. CNA compared the amount spent on opioids in other industries and found that opioid spend is consistently 5 percent to 10 percent higher in the construction industry.

An estimated 15.1 and 6.5 percent of construction and manufacturing workers, respectively, have engaged in illicit drug use. CNA claim data analyzed the industry averages against potential opioid abusers and post-accident spend.

The insurer also examined employees by probability of painkiller abuse (low, medium and high) and found incurred costs for injured employees was higher for those flagged for likelihood of painkiller abuse. The report stated: “After three years of follow up, claimants flagged for high probability of opioid abuse resulted in 36 percent higher costs compared to claimants who were not flagged for abuse.”

Lortab, Demerol, OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin were noted as some of the top billed painkillers.

“By partnering with leading construction and manufacturing associations, we have seen increased concern about prescription opioid abuse, as well as how it increases worker injuries and businesses’ losses,” said John Tatum, senior vice president, Middle Market. “Many of these associations are developing programs to educate their members about the issue in order to provide the tools, training and resources they need to address opioid abuse in their own workplaces.”

The first Risk Outlook, Impacts of the Great Recession, was published in 2014 and analyzed claim data to help construction contractors understand the risks their businesses have been exposed to because of the Great Recession. CNA will continue to release Risk Outlooks on emerging topics for its key customer segments.

Risk Outlook is a publication of CNA Risk Control, Claim and Actuary.

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