NSC Toolkit Assists Employers with Opioids in the Workplace

Originally published by: EHS TodaySeptember 19, 2019

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A new toolkit released by the National Safety Council (NSC) is aimed at addressing opioid safety in the workplace.

The Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit, launched in partnership with Stericycle,

“Two-thirds of American adults with opioid use disorders are in the workforce,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Everyone has a role to play in ending opioid overdose, including employers, who are often on the front lines. Organizations big and small will find life-saving information in this new toolkit – information that not only will help employers protect profits, but most important, their people.”

More than two dozen resources can be found in the Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit, including educational materials about opioids, prevention, treatment and recovery. It targets specific groups found in a typical workplace setting: supervisors, human resource (HR) professionals, safety professionals and employees.

The toolkit includes a sample policy for HR professionals to use when updating or creating a drug-free workplace policy; an overview of how impairment impacts safety; a guide for supervisors who need to communicate with employees about opioids; a PowerPoint presentation for company leadership to deliver to staff when the organization is ready to unveil its policy; and a suite of videos, including one from an emergency room doctor explaining how drugs affect the brain. Other relevant data and statistics can be found throughout the materials.

A survey released by NSC earlier this year indicated 75% have been directly impacted by opioid misuse, but just 17% feel extremely well prepared to address it. Among the resources employers requested are sample policies, videos or other interactive web tools, and workplace- or industry-specific data and statistics.

"Employers play a critical role in solving the nation's opioid crisis," said VADM Jerome M. Adams, United States Surgeon General. "The National Safety Council toolkit provides employers with a framework to effectively address employee opioid misuse and help employees get treatment if they need it."

The toolkit also addresses other areas of concern expressed in the NSC survey conducted earlier this year, such as:

  • Employers are more concerned about hiring qualified workers, employee benefits costs and worker compensation costs than they are about employee opioid use of any type – legal or illicit. However, opioid misuse – no matter what type – can impact all other issues employers cited as more concerning.
  • 86% of employers believe taking opioids even as prescribed can impair job performance, yet only 60% have policies in place helping employees stay safe when being prescribed 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
  • 79% are not very confident that individual employees can spot warning signs of opioid misuse

“We can work together to ensure safe workplaces free from opioid impairment,” said OSHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt. “OSHA is proud to partner with the NSC to ensure the safety and health of America’s workers.”

The toolkit available for general download at nsc.org/opioidsatwork

“As the official launch partner of the Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit, we are proud to be a part a simple, yet innovative, resource for business leaders who are taking steps to help combat the ongoing opioid epidemic in America,” said Cindy Miller, CEO of Stericycle. “Now more than ever, substance use and substance use disorders are affecting employees, workplaces, families and communities. This toolkit gives employers a unique opportunity to identify early warning signs and connect employees to the support they need.”

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