Five Prevention Strategies to Mitigate the Abuse of Construction’s Drug of Choice

Denise GillinConstruction, News

This is an excerpt of an article by Gary Clevenger MS, CSP, CRIS, RRE, the national risk control director, construction at CNA Insurance. To read the full article >>>


What can a construction employer do to thwart opioid abuse among its workers? These five prevention strategies can help:

  • Educate employees about responsible prescription opioid use— Inform your workers about the potency of these drugs, how they work, any drug interactions and how they can become addictive.
  • Understand risk factors surrounding opioid use, such as doctor shopping and physician dispensing.
  • Provide support and a robust return-to-work program for injured employees— Your employee’s immediate supervisor can help prevent any further injury to the worker by refocusing his/ her injury away from disability and toward work ability, which improves morale. In addition, social support goes a long way when building a line of defense against drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Communicate treatment options, including counseling and pharmaceutical treatment— Behavioral treatment can help an addict deal with cravings, avoid situations in which drugs are present and strengthen social support. Pharmacological interventions include the use of addiction medications as well as ongoing surveillance regarding prescriptions and usage patterns. A combined approach of behavioral and pharmacological yields greater success.
  • Ask questions— The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that you ask the physicians in your medical provider network these sample questions:
    Are you using evidence-based treatment guidelines?
    Are you using principles of informed choice with your patients while advising them of the risk and benefits?
    Do you set expectations for discontinuation with limiting quintiles of opioids to treat acute pain?
    Are functional goals outlined at every visit?


More about Gary Clevenger, the author: As a safety and risk management professional with diverse experience, Clevenger has a background in risk management, training, self-directing work teams and understanding insurance coverage and regulatory compliance. Clevenger works closely with professional trade associations and CNA risk control professionals to develop risk management strategies, risk profiles, incident trending and predictive analytics for the construction industry. Visit

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