Drug-poisoning prevention services for construction workers

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VICTORIA – People working in the construction industry will benefit from life-saving harm-reduction training in the workplace, substance-use support groups and information on local community resources thanks to new provincial funding.

Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) has received a provincial grant to expand its Tailgate Toolkit project, a harm-reduction program to prevent toxic drug poisoning in B.C.’s construction industry. VICA represents over 450 industrial/commercial/institutional construction companies, with members employing more than 4,000 individuals on Vancouver Island.

The project will reduce the stigma associated with substance use and raise awareness of pain management, pathways to treatment and other information about mental health and substance use. BC is investing $1 million through the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA) and the Community Action Initiative (CAI) to support this expansion.

“The toxic drug crisis continues to take lives at a tragic rate. In cases where we know where someone worked, nearly 20% of those who died worked in trades, transport or as equipment operators,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I am grateful to the Vancouver Island Construction Association and our partners for bringing the Tailgate Toolkit directly to the workplace. It will save lives and connect people to the services and support they need.”

The expanded toolkit will allow workplaces to educate staff about substance use to help prevent toxic drug deaths, as well as harm-reduction and recovery strategies and employee resources. Workers with substance-use challenges will also have access to weekly support groups facilitated by front-line workers with lived experience of substance use and working in the construction industry.

“It’s heartbreaking that so many people throughout B.C. continue to be affected by the illicit drug-poisoning crisis. It’s essential that workers and all British Columbians have access to the information and supports they need to prevent toxic drug overdose,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “The expansion of this program will ensure construction workers know the risks and feel empowered to get help when they need it.”

The toolkit will include training for managers and responders to recognize and provide support for people with substance-use and mental-health challenges, including mental-health first aid, naloxone training, pain management and more. As part of this project, construction associations throughout British Columbia, including the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA), the Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA) and the Northern Regional Construction Association (NRCA), will host dedicated harm-reduction co-ordinators. They will also provide access to print and digital resources developed in consultation with regional health authorities to highlight the harm-reduction and recovery services available to workers within and beyond their benefit packages.

According to the BC Coroners’ Service, between January and October 2021, 79% of those who died from suspected illicit drug toxicity were men.

Learn More:

For more information on the Tailgate Toolkit, visit: https://thetailgatetoolkit.ca/