Ryan Companies to distribute Narcan at construction sites

Ryan Companies to distribute Narcan at construction sites

Ryan Companies to distribute Narcan at construction sites

It’s “Construction Safety Week” and one local company is grappling with an issue showing the construction industry has higher deadly overdose rates compared to workers in other jobs.

At one St. Paul high-rise under construction, workers face dangers daily: electrical hazards, moving machinery and heavy building materials.

John Gaddini, the corporate safety director at Ryan Companies, says a high risk of injuries leads to a high risk of drug abuse.

“People have, you know, soft tissue injuries and so forth and they’re issued prescription drugs like that, and then they get addicted to it,” said Gaddini.

The Centers for Disease Control says prescription opioid use is three times higher among construction workers with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). It also reports overdose deaths in construction increased nine times from 2011 to 2018.

Mary DeLaquil, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), breaks down the state’s latest report from 2022.

Data shows opioid overdose deaths among all Minnesotans plateaued after several years of sharp increases, at the same time, nonfatal ovrdoses are still increasing, keeping deaths at a historically high level.

DeLaquil believes naloxone, known commonly as Narcan, is just one life-saving measure when these overdoses are happening.

“My colleagues tell me that, thanks to the legislature last year, distribution and availability really ramped up in the past year,” DeLaquil said. “It’s just more accessible to everyone.”

In the 2023 legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature mandated the carrying of naloxone to select groups in the state, including schools, law enforcement and sober homes.

Narcan has been a prescription drug since 2015. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter Narcan for the first time.

Gaddini says while they have not had issues on any of their job sites, Ryan Companies is one of the few being proactive. The company has partnered with the nonprofit SAFE Project with plans to distribute Narcan.

By the end of the summer, more than 100 job sites across the nation will have Narcan available and about 2,000 workers will be trained on how to use it.

“This is one major thing that we can have in our toolbox to help somebody out,” Gaddini said.

You can find Narcan partners and resources on the MDH website.