Safety Q&A: Why should employers be concerned about opioid abuse?

Safety Q&A: Why should employers be concerned about opioid abuse?


Q: I’ve heard a lot about opioid addiction and abuse in the news. Is this really something I should be concerned about with my own employees? How does it impact me as an employer?

A: Opioid abuse is often in the news because it continues to be a prominent issue. A stark reality is that opioid deaths have been on the rise for years. Per the National Safety Council, the odds of dying from opioid drugs are higher than a vehicular collision.

Because opioid abuse has become the leading cause of preventable deaths, employers are experiencing a wide range of issues. (National Safety Council, 2020)

Employees with opioid addiction may have an increase in workplace injuries and errors, worker’s compensation costs and absenteeism. Some trends also show a decrease in employee performance and overall morale.

For employers, this raises concerns for not only the employee but safety concerns for fellow employees and the public. Opioids can cause an employee’s reaction times to be slower, impair his/her judgment, and increases chances for injury to the employee and those around him/her.

Employers can reduce risk by implementing the following:

  • Employee Education
    • What are opioids
    • When to use
    • When to seek help
    • Alternative medications
  • Workplace Policy
    • Drug free policies
    • Leave policies
    • Management training on policies and procedures
  • Workplace Culture
    • Work / life balance
    • Health and wellness
    • Workplace safety initiatives
  • Benefit and Healthcare Plans
    • Consult with Miller Group about your carrier’s plans for mental health and behavioral services
    • Annual screening for drug abuse
    • Employee Assist Programs

Should you need additional information on how to protect your business and employees you can contact the Miller Group, visit the Department of Labor website, or National Safety Council.


Aaron Paris - Safety JSA     By Aaron Paris, Director of Safety, The Miller Group


See Also:

September Safety Q&A: How Do I Use an AED?

August Safety Q&A: What is JSA and How Does it Keep My Team Safe?

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