Current Research

Preventing Suicide and Opioid-Related Deaths in Construction Research Projects

In January 2023, CPWR invited proposals from construction professionals and researchers across the U.S. to tackle the issue of suicide and opioid-related deaths in the construction sector. Nineteen proposals were submitted and reviewed by experts, resulting in five projects receiving $50,000 each from a private donor. The evaluation of programs and interventions for their efficacy and scalability was a top priority in the selection process. The researchers will report on their findings in 2024.

Evaluating the Implementation and Effectiveness of New Peer-Support Programs in Two Building Trades Unions. Washington University in St. Louis
The Greater St. Louis Construction Laborers Health and Welfare Fund and another program (to be selected soon) have launched a peer support and recovery initiative to decrease opioid use disorders, mental health disorders, and suicides. This study will analyze the effectiveness of both programs during their early years by collecting pre- and post-measures and comparing different models of peer support. The findings will be valuable for other organizations that are planning to implement suicide prevention or overdose fatality prevention interventions that utilize peer support.

Examining the development and impact of the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1 Member Assistance Education Program. MDB, Inc.
Local 1 of the International Union of Elevator Constructors, comprising 3,200 members who install, service, and modernize elevators, escalators, and other conveyances in metropolitan New York/New Jersey, face numerous hazards in their daily work, which can be physically demanding and tiring. Occupational injuries and stress may lead to opioid misuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. This study aims to examine how Local 1’s member assistance program provides peer support and training to its members. The objective is to gain insights into a construction union-based member assistance program that can serve as a model for other industry players.

Impact of employment laws on construction worker suicide. University of Iowa
This study aims to examine the impact of employment laws and community-level factors on the suicide rates of construction workers. The researchers will test the hypothesis that the suicide rates among construction workers who have access to paid leave will be lower than those who do not have such benefits. The study will explore how factors such as job insecurity, unstable working conditions, and inadequate access to healthcare contribute to elevated suicide risk among construction workers. By analyzing the relationship between these factors and suicide rates, the research will identify environments with high suicide risk and inform necessary policy changes to reduce that risk. The ultimate goal of this study is to provide valuable insights into the prevention of construction worker suicides and to promote the implementation of policies and programs that address the specific needs and challenges faced by this vulnerable workforce.

Reducing opioid overdose deaths through meaningful access to naloxone. Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) Member Assistance Program
Although the overdose reversal drug naloxone (such as Narcan) has saved countless lives that would have been lost to opioid overdose, workers may not be aware that this medication is now available over the counter. This project, led by representatives from SMOHIT’s Member Assistance Program, will work with three locals from the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation union to pilot training with and distribution of naloxone nasal spray. The goal is to create a model for trainings that can be used widely to develop knowledge about naloxone, including the benefits of making it broadly available to construction workers.

Suicide Prevention Practices for Iron Workers. Purdue University
Iron workers in the construction industry experience alarmingly high rates of suicide. As such, this study seeks to identify the best practices to prevent suicide in this group. The study will focus on two specific aims. First, the researchers will investigate changes in construction employer practices that can positively impact the mental health of iron workers. Second, the study will conduct a longitudinal assessment of the “Mates in Construction” suicide prevention training program, which has been providing diverse suicide prevention and early intervention strategies for Australian construction workers since 2008. The goal is to gain insights into effective approaches for preventing suicide among iron workers and to inform the development of similar programs in the United States.

As stakeholders in the construction industry, CPWR recognizes the value of collaboration, research, training, awareness, access to services, and effective communication. We have sponsored and conducted hundreds of research studies, including those focused on preventing suicide and opioid-related deaths, and we are committed to building on our progress. With continued investment in these initiatives, we can collaborate to prevent suicide and opioid-related deaths in the construction industry.