For the first time in United States history, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle accident, the National Safety Council reports.
In fact, workplace deaths involving drugs or alcohol rose by at least 25% for the past five consecutive years, acording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The opioid crisis is truly encompassing nearly every aspect of American lives,” says Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC.
The council’s research finds employers are more concerned about hiring qualified workers, employee benefits and worker compensation costs, than they are about employee use of legal prescription opioids or illicit use and sale of opioids.
However, opioid misuse – legal or illicit – can impact all other issues employers cited as more concerning, NSC makes clear.
At least 86% of employers believe taking opioids even as prescribed can impair job performance, yet only 60% have policies in place requiring employees to notify their employer when they are using a prescription opioid.
Only half of employers are very confident that they have the appropriate HR policies and resources to deal with opioid use and misuse in the workplace.
In addition, 79% are not very confident that individual employees can spot warning signs of opioid misuse. However, the council is encoraged that 41% of employers would return an employee to work after he or she receives treatment for misusing prescription opioids.
“If there is a silver lining, it’s that we have an opportunity to gain the attention and resources of American businesses to combat this societal scourge,” Smith says.
NSC provides, a free-of-charge Prescription Drug Employer Kit designed to help employers manage opioid use at their workplaces..