How employers can help curb workplace opioid use

Published
  • April 26 2017, 5:05pm EDT
As employers wake up to the notion that substance abuse may be wreaking havoc in a nearby cubicle, there are steps to take to ensure that the right benefits and the right communications strategy are in place.

A recent survey by the National Safety Council found that 70% of businesses say that narcotic painkillers have affected their business. To help monitor use of opioids, the NSC advises employers to take the following steps to help curb drug use in the workplace.

How employers can help curb workplace opioid use

As employers wake up to the notion that substance abuse may be wreaking havoc in a nearby cubicle, there are steps to take to ensure that the right benefits and the right communications strategy are in place.

A recent survey by the National Safety Council found that 70% of businesses say that narcotic painkillers have affected their business. To help monitor use of opioids, the NSC advises employers to take the following steps to help curb drug use in the workplace.

An employee assistance program (EAP)

The cost of helping an employee who might have a problem with opioid abuse proves to be 25-200% more cost effective than replacing that person, the NSC notes. Not only does a company suffer the loss of knowledge and production from an employee it might decide to terminate, it also is leaving someone in a dangerous position to himself or society in general.

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Employee education

Keeping in mind that the employee-patient relationship is a confidential one, employees should still be educated about the dangers of opioids in the workplace. The education process should include the dangers of operating heavy equipment while on medication, the risks of driving on pain pills, safe storage and the fact that they should not share their medication with fellow employees.

A clear, written policy

Together with a company’s legal department, a policy should be put in place — similar to a company’s restrictions on the use of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Supervisor training

Management should be current on the workplace’s prescription drug policy and educated on how to identify possible employee abuse. Managers need to understand that a person with a disability is protected by the ADA and not infringe upon his or her rights.

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Drug testing

Drug-testing in the workplace brings down the number of accidents, NSC notes. However, employers and those who are conducting drug screenings should be aware that recently, with the easy access to synthetic urine over the Internet, those who are abusing drugs have found ways to skirt the system. Currently, only 14 states in the U.S. ban the sale and purchase of synthetic urine.