Special Topics in Safety Management

Opioid Toolkit for Employers Released by NSC

The National Safety Council (NSC) released an “Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit” that employers can use to address workplace impacts of the ongoing opioid crisis. The NSC encouraged employers to implement robust drug-free workplace policies and called on employers to equip their workplaces with first-aid kits containing naloxone (an overdose reversal drug), provide supervisor education around opioid misuse, and offer access to treatment in their employee assistance programs (EAPs).

Opioid epidemic

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“Two-thirds of American adults with opioid use disorders are in the workforce,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in a statement.

“Everyone has a role to play in ending opioid overdose, including employers, who are often on the front lines.”

Toolkit Contents

The toolkit contains fact sheets, posters, presentations, and scripts for 5-minute safety talks, as well as reports, sample policies, videos, and white papers. The toolkit is intended to help employers:

  • Understand opioids and how they impact the workplace;
  • Learn more about opioid misuse and opioid use disorder;
  • Educate employees on the risks of opioid use;
  • Train employees and supervisors to recognize signs of worker impairment;
  • Incorporate drug-related Human Resources (HR) policies and procedures to address problems posed by opioid use and abuse; and
  • Support employees who are struggling with opioid misuse or opioid use disorder.

The toolkit includes a sample policy that HR professionals can use when updating or creating a drug-free workplace policy. It also contains a template for PowerPoint® presentations that company officials can use for staff briefings when the organization is ready to unveil its policy.

The NSC has regularly surveyed employers about their concerns regarding the effects of opioids in the workplace. However, employers are more concerned about hiring qualified workers, employee benefits costs, and workers’ compensation costs rather than opioid use or misuse in their workplaces.

The NSC’s survey of employers earlier this year found:

  • 86% believe taking opioids even as prescribed can impair job performance, yet only 60% have policies in place to keep employees safe when workers take prescription opioids;
  • Only half are “very confident” that they have the appropriate HR policies and resources to deal with opioid use and misuse in the workplace; and
  • 79% are “not very confident” that individual employees can spot warning signs of opioid misuse.

Stance of Treatment Center

The opioid crisis has struck close to home for the NSC, which issued a statement of support for a proposal to place a drug treatment and rehabilitation center in Itasca, Illinois, where the NSC is headquartered.

The NSC noted the urgency in offering treatment options to curtail opioid abuse.

“For the first time in U.S. history, a person’s lifetime odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose have eclipsed the odds of dying from a motor vehicle crash,” the group said in a statement.

The NSC noted several research findings on addiction treatment, including:

  • Counties where treatment facilities are located experience drops in drug-induced mortality rates;
  • Adding treatment facilities reduces local crime, both violent and financially motivated; and
  • Each additional treatment facility reduces homicides by between 0.18% and 0.24%, along with reductions in burglary and larceny, motor vehicle theft, and robbery.