Safety and OSHA News

New toolkit to help employers address opioid usage by employees

If you’re not sure your company has a comprehensive plan to address employee opioid addiction, you’re not alone. The good news is that the National Safety Council has released materials to help employers. 

Just 17% of employers are extremely well prepared to deal with employee opioid misuse, according to an NSC survey. Yet 75% of companies surveyed said they were impacted by opioid misuse.

That’s why the NSC has launched its free Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit.

The toolkit provides more than two dozen resources including educational materials about opioids, prevention, treatment and recovery. The toolkit webpage has tabs for four at-work groups: safety professionals, HR professionals, supervisors and employees.

Resources include:

  • a sample policy for HR 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 for company leadership to deliver to staff, and
  • a suite of videos, including one from an ER doctor explaining how drugs affect the brain.

NSC CEO Lorraine Martin says providing employees with a “robust education” about opioids is a good first step toward combating the opioid epidemic. Also, studies have shown that employer-initiated treatment of people with an opioid addiction is more successful.

Returning unused meds

Also available through the toolkit is a way for employees to return unused opioid medications.

Through partner Stericycle, employers can purchase Seal&Send medication mail-back envelopes to give to employees. The product provides a way for employees to dispose of their unused drugs by filling a pre-addressed envelope with up to eight ounces of pharmaceuticals. The envelopes can be dropped into any U.S. Postal Service mailbox.

Why should employers make these envelopes available to employees? Thirty percent of people who have had opioid prescriptions say they’ve shared them with others, and 75% of people with opioid prescriptions are in the workforce. Sharing opioids is known to be fairly common at construction work sites.

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