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DPH Report Links Opioid Overdose Deaths to Injuries at Work

By Tom Marino | May 23, 2024
Last Updated: May 23, 2024

BOSTON – The Occupational Health Surveillance Program within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released a new report on Thursday based on a study of opioid-related overdoses of those with previous workers’ compensation claims.

DPH compared data on workers’ compensation claims to information from death certificates to find links between the two factors.

The report looked at cases between 2011 and 2020.

The report found that those previously injured at work were 35 percent more likely to have died from an opioid-related overdoes. Of 4,304 residents between 16 and 60 years old who died and had at least one workplace injury claim, 741 (17.2 percent) died from an opioid related overdose, according to the report.

Within this group, those who died from an opioid-related overdose were more likely to be male, between 25 and 44 years old, born in the U.S., and working in construction, quarrying and mining, or food preparation and serving. Sprains and strains of the back were the most common injury sustained by those who died from an overdose.

Of the 741 individuals with previous injuries at work who died from opioid-related overdoses,

  • 28 percent previously worked in construction and extraction operations;
  • 11 percent worked in transportation and material-moving;
  • 7 percent who worked in food preparation and serving-related occupations;
  • 7 percent production;
  • 6 percent building grounds cleaning, maintenance.

The findings of the report, according to DPH, allow the agency to assess the correlation between acute and chronic pain from occupational injuries and opioid use and death.

Other findings in the report of injured workers who died from opioid-related overdose:

  • Race: 84 percent non-Hispanic white, 10 percent Hispanic, four percent black;
  • 94 percent born in the U.S.
  • Leading work-related injuries: strain/sprain (including to the back), crushing or contusion, laceration or puncture, and fracture;
  • 87 percent male, 13 percent female.



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