Are your hands tied when an employee is taking prescription painkillers? Not at all. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) has just published a new guide on what proactive steps employers can take to make sure workplace safety isn’t compromised.
The NSC says it developed The proactive role employers can take: opioids in the workplace to help companies understand how employee prescription painkiller use or abuse can directly impact businesses and what they can do about it.
Here are some highlights from the report – 6 proactive steps companies can take:
- Re-evaluate your company’s drug policy. The NSC says this should be done with HR, legal counsel and safety. The NSC offers sample language to address prescribed painkiller use in policies.
- Educate employees about the dangers of prescription painkiller use and misuse. Employees should know:
- to discuss their concerns about taking an opioid painkiller as soon as their prescriber (doctor) recommends it
- what your state law says about driving while impaired by prescription drugs
- the risks of taking painkillers while performing safety-sensitive tasks
- not to mix opioids with certain other types of drugs, and
- not to take someone else’s prescribed painkiller or share theirs with someone else
- Train supervisors so they know:
- about your company’s current drug policy and any updates as they’re made
- the potential signs of employee drug impairment, and
- what they should tell their workers about prescription painkillers.
- Promote your Employee Assistance Program. Let employees know that your company has resources for confidential access to help and treatment for painkiller dependence or addiction.
- Address prescription medications in your drug testing program. Drug testing doesn’t prove impairment. However, when it comes to prescribed drugs, it can show if an employee is taking something for which they don’t have a prescription, and whether they’re taking too much or too little of the drug. Why might taking too little be a problem? It can show the employee is stockpiling the drug for future unprescribed use.
- Partner with your healthcare and workers’ compensation insurance companies. Employers can consider closed formularies where opioid prescriptions require prior authorization and approval. Also, find out what data your insurance company provides on pharmaceutical use. When an injured worker fills a prescription at a pharmacy, the pharmacist can use an electronic database to find the other medications and dosages that patients are or have previously taken. This information isn’t available when the prescription provider (doctor) is also the dispenser.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in the report. You can download a copy here.