The State of Opioids in the Workplace in 2019


In a recently released study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic opioid use has been increasing in various parts of the country, making its way west from foundational epidemics in the Northeast and Midwest. In 2017, fentanyl was the drug cited most often as a cause of overdoses leading to death in all regions east of the Mississippi

To make matters worse, the National Safety Council is reporting that for the first time on record, the odds of dying from an overdose are higher than dying in a motor vehicle-related crash. All this data points to an alarming issue that is affecting the country both personally and professionally.

Opioid Use at Work

Opioids have found their way into the workplace and businesses are scrambling to find solutions to keep them out and keep risks related to opioid use low. There are many different symptoms that can be spotted by employers to help stop opioid use at work. Employers need to be familiar with these physical and behavioral signs to keep risks away.

A major sign of opioid use, statistically speaking, shows that employees who misuse prescription drugs are absent from work an average of three extra days per year. Also, these employees may have a higher turnover rate, they may change jobs more frequently, and have a higher risk of overdose if they work in industries with high rates of injuries related to their jobs.

Impact on Workers’ Compensation and Other Insurance

The workers’ compensation industry is being impacted by the opioid epidemic at an alarming rate. In fact, opioid use costs the economy more than $95 billion on an annual basis with employers paying out $18 billion. Total workers’ compensation spent on opioids in 2017 hit nearly $4 billion ($3.7 billion) and for every seven dollars spent on medicine, one dollar went to opioids.

Opioid use in the workplace can make itself known through additional injuries, increase in health care claims, diminished productivity, dangers to others, and much higher claims costs.

Claims can also be made against directors and officers in terms of negligence in drug use. This can be evident in drug policies that haven’t been updated in years or drug testing that lacks guidance. Whatever the case may be, claims can bring down employers and their leaders and cause a fallout that can affect business. In this case, management liability insurance should be pursued to provide the means to afford the right level of legal counsel or pay out settlements following claims.

Combating the Crisis from the Ground Up

It’s in the employers’ best interest to be aware of opioid use when it finds its way into the workplace. Confidential support for things like treatment and discussion should be encouraged, and resources should be geared to rehabilitating employees rather than disciplining them.

One way that employers can find a solution to the opioid epidemic at work is to maintain a drug-free workplace policy and drug testing protocols that are created with human resources, legal help, and employee relations. Drug testing should take place before employment is fully offered as well.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are also helpful in supporting employees who need help and can be cost effective for businesses in the long run. Replacing an employee can cost between 25 to 200 percent of their annual compensation, so opting to supply support resources will help while also boosting morale, productivity, and trust.

About Axis Insurance Services

Our mission is to help customers identify and prioritize their Professional Liability & Management Liability insurance needs, provide the most competitive coverage options available, and offer superior customer service. Each and every business has a distinctly unique set of products or services. We are committed to offering flexible and intelligent coverage solutions tailored to meet our customers’ needs. Put our experience and expertise to work for you. Give us a call at (201) 847-9175.

Business Insurance, management liability, management liability insurance, Opioids, Opioid Epidemic, Opioids in the Workplace

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