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Developer Ryan Cos. will distribute the drug naloxone at 100 construction sites and train 2,000 employees on overdose-response techniques as part of enhanced mental health services for employees, officials announced Monday.

The drug, better known by the brand name Narcan, will also be placed in 17 Minneapolis-based Ryan corporate offices by the end of summer, officials said.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently reported the construction sector has one of the highest rates of opioid abuse in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted overdose deaths among construction workers increased nine times from 2011 to 2018.

The CDC also found one of three construction workers suffers from soft-tissue injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and rotator cuff injuries. Prescriptions of opioid pain killers were found to be three times higher among construction workers with those ailments.

"The opioid epidemic has severely impacted the construction industry in recent years, and we realize it's more important now than ever for our teams to have access to life-saving opioid reversal medication," said John Gaddini, Ryan's safety director. "Our hope is that employees will never have to administer naloxone but with the training they will receive, they will be ready to act in the event of a life-threatening scenario."

Ryan's nationwide effort with naloxone is being launched during Mental Health Awareness Month and National Construction Safety Week. It comes after Ryan joined ranks in March with the new White House Challenge to Save Lives From Overdose.

The move is the latest in a swirl of actions taken to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in the construction industry.

Last year, the 3,500-member International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82 (DC 82) and the Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest (FTIUM), both in Little Canada, began offering mental health and substance abuse services to members and stocking union halls with Narcan in an effort to curb deaths by overdoses and suicide.

The carpenters union hall in St. Paul is considering a similar move, officials said.

Ryan, which built several high-profile Twin Cities projects such as CHS Field in St. Paul, has about 2,000 employees in 17 states and regularly works with hundreds more subcontractors.

Ryan will partner with the nonprofit Safe Project to make sure its employees know how to use the highly effective naloxone drug in the event of an overdose on the jobsite or an office.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved naloxone for non-prescription, over-the-counter use for the first time. The drug is increasingly being tucked into first-aid kits in classrooms, college campuses and now worksites as Americans strive to combat the national epidemic.

The number of Minnesotans dying from opioid overdoses rose 43% to 1,002 between 2020 and 2022, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.