From the Desk of Chris Trahan Cain, Executive Director

September 2023

Five New Research Projects Focus on Preventing Suicide and Opioid-Related Deaths Among Construction Workers

Construction workers are dying from suicide and opioid overdoses at rates far higher than those in other industries. Earlier this year we invited industry professionals and researchers to propose studies aimed at preventing suicide and opioid-related deaths. An expert review committee considered 19 proposals, with evaluation of the efficacy and scalability of the programs studied a top priority. The committee selected five projects to receive $50,000 each from funding provided by a private sector donor. They examine: development and impact of a local union’s Member Assistance Education Program; implementation and effectiveness of two new building trades union peer-support programs; impact of employment laws on construction worker suicide; training on and access to naloxone; and suicide prevention practices for Iron Workers. These one-year studies will report their results next year; learn more on CPWR's website. Also, see below for resources on preventing suicide and on how to register for next week’s webinar on the topic.

New Data Bulletin Examines Labor Force Characteristics in Construction

Data on labor force characteristics provide economic indicators of labor market performance, as well as information on those in and out of the labor force, which can provide information used for recruitment and retainment efforts. The September 2023 issue of CPWR’s Data Bulletin examines the labor force in construction compared to all industries, as well as the demographics of workers by employment status. Construction workers now account for 7.5% of the civilian labor force, and employment in the industry increased 4.6% from 2021 to 2022. The recently updated Construction Employment Trends and Employment Projections dashboards provide more information on the labor force.


Resources for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, which is especially relevant for construction: workers in our industry have one of the country’s highest suicide rates. Learn more about how to recognize the signs someone is considering suicide, to start a conversation, and to play a role in supporting friends, co-workers, and family members by visiting our website. CPWR’s materials include a Hazard Alert Card, a Toolbox Talk, and infographics, an on-demand webinar, and links to resources from other organizations. The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) offers a Suicide Prevention Month Toolkit, which includes a social media toolkit, toolbox talks, posters, and other resources for the month. 

New Data Dashboard on Retirement Plans 

CPWR’s Data Center has launched a Retirement Plans in Construction dashboard that highlights wage-and-salary construction workers participation in pension plans by state, occupation, and industry, as well as participation in retirement saving plans by plan type. It joins more than two dozen other highly interactive dashboards on important topics in construction.

New Best Built Plans Infographics Now Available in Spanish

The improvements to our Best Built Plans program, which can enhance manual materials handling planning and practices, now includes Spanish versions of three new infographics: Plan Your Lift, Plan Your Route, and Safe Lifting and Moving Practices. 


Sheet Metal & HVAC Safety Intervention Adoption & Best Practices Research.

Kristen Hurtado, Kenneth Sullivan. CPWR Small Study, August 2023. Read the Key Finding and the full report.


Participate in a Pilot Program on Preventing Struck-by Incidents

CPWR is recruiting general and specialty contractors to participate in a pilot planning program to prevent struck-by incidents. Learn more about the free program and how to participate by watching the webinar from late last year, Struck by Hazards, Barriers, and Opportunities in the Construction Industry, or by emailing Grace Barlet at CPWR. 



Wednesday, September 13 at 2:00 p.m. ET (1 hour+)

Suicide Prevention in the Construction Industry: Know the Signs and Help a Life (Hosted by CPWR, MCAA, NECA, SMACNA, and TAUC)


Studies show that suicide is killing workers in the construction industry at five times the rate of work-related injuries like falls and struck-by incidents. And it’s killing them in all parts of the industry – including upper management. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to why this is happening nor is there an easy fix, but in many cases deaths from suicide CAN be prevented when we push mental health stigma aside and help one another.


We will be joined on this webinar by a representative from NASCAR driver Daniel Dye’s race team and the Race to Stop Suicide for a conversation about real issues affecting us every day and ways to spot signs of depression or feelings of hopelessness in colleagues, employees, and loved ones. In addition, our panelists will share their own experiences with mental health, engaging in suicide prevention activities in the workplace, and breaking down barriers in an industry that does not always welcome conversations about feelings. Employers and other attendees will walk away with ideas to help reduce stigma and save lives and will learn more about mental health resources for the construction industry.



  • Chris Trahan Cain, CIH, Executive Director, CPWR


  • Raffi F. Elchemmas, Executive Director, Safety, Health and Risk Management, Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Alexander M. Kopp, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC)
  • Daniel Dye, NASCAR Driver
  • Randy Dye, Chairman, Race to Stop Suicide
  • Kevin Striegle, Manager, Daniel Dye Racing and Race to Stop Suicide
  • Justin Crandol, MS, CSP, ARM, CRIS, Director of Safety, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA)
  • Wesley L. Wheeler, SMS, CESCP, Executive Director of Safety, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and Board Member, and Board Member, Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP)
  • Justin Azbill, Director, National Environment, Health, and Safety, Milwaukee Tool, and Board Member, Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP)


Click here to register and submit questions in advance.

Please note: CPWR can only accommodate 1,000 attendees live on Zoom, however, we will record and share the webinar with everyone who registered after the event.

CPWR in the News

5 facts for safe use of aerial lifts, Safety+Health Magazine, 8/29/23

OSHA Seeks to Require Proper PPE Fit for Construction Workers, Equipment World, 8/28/23

Ramped-up US construction exposes workers to an unregulated toxic, Environmental Health News, 8/3/23

Career Opportunities

CPWR has openings for two positions:

Visit our Career Opportunities page for instructions on applying.

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