On-Site Magazine

Construction workers among most vulnerable to opioid-related deaths in B.C.: study

By Jillian Morgan   

Construction Health & Safety

OTTAWA—Construction workers in British Columbia are facing the fatal consequences of a “drug overdose crisis.”

According to a Nov. 13 report by Statistics Canada, nearly 25 per cent of those employed in B.C. prior to a fatal overdose worked in construction.

Part of the Opioid Project, the report is the first in a series that aims to shine a light on illicit drug overdoses across the province, where StatsCan said the nationwide crisis is “most acute.”

Based on data from the B.C. Coroner’s Service, the number of people who died from a drug overdose more than doubled from 292 in 2011 to 639 in 2016.


Of those, 26 per cent were employed in the five years prior to their death. In addition to construction, 13 per cent worked in building maintenance, waste management and other support service industries.

Around three-quarters of the fatalities occurred among men and those aged 25 to 54.

Overall, 26 per cent of people who died of an illicit drug overdose in B.C. had experienced at least one acute care in-patient hospitalization in the year prior to their death. The study also found that around two-thirds of the fatal overdose cohort did not have contact with police in the two years prior to their death.

The Opioid Project is a partnership between Statistics Canada and the B.C. Coroners Service, the City of Surrey, Surrey Fire Service, Surrey RCMP Detachment, Fraser Health Authority, BC Stats, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the B.C. Ministry of Health and Public Safety Canada.

According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, 10 people died on average each day from drug overdoses between January 2016 and March 2018 in Canada.


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