Every day in the United States, more than 130 people die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse and addictive qualities of opioids—including heroin, synthetic opioids, and pain relievers—are combining to escalate this unprecedented epidemic in the country.
It’s also having an effect on the professional landscape, putting companies and small businesses in the crosshairs of having to help their employees who are struggling with addiction, especially those who suffered an injury working for their company.
Employers are scrambling to find solutions to this rising issue while also keeping liability costs low. While it does help to have coverage such as management liability insurance to protect against employee claims related to opioid dependency having the right tools and proactive approach to this issue is more important.
There are steps that employers can take to prevent addiction from developing in their workplace and hire and retain workers more successfully who are in recovery.
Employing Workers with Opioid Issues
Most people with substance use disorders are employed. That being said, it’s important for businesses to consider that addiction may be present in their workplace. In some parts of the country, those who work in construction have a higher-than-average chance of dying from an overdose due to developing an addiction to opioids following a job-related injury. Those who work in manufacturing, service, entertainment, and health care have high chances of falling under this potential risk as well.
Though it may be evident that opioids are present and impacting the workplace in some capacity, many employers may be overlooking the actual severity of the issue at hand. From the disruption of technology to an aging workforce, it’s understandable that companies may be distracted by other forces changing the way they do business. But paying special attention to this rising issue is something that needs to be taken care of now.
Changes To Consider
It may be a difficult issue to take on, but employers can help prevent addiction while also helping out those onsite who have current problems with opioids.
- First, employers should train managers to identify and intervene with employees who are suspected of being under the influence of opioids or who are caught with substances. This can be done in a non-confrontational manner and should be pursued with the utmost care and sympathy.
- Employers should educate their workers on the risk of opioid abuse, pain management alternatives, and disposal methods.
- Have an emergency kit on hand to take care of a potential overdose if it occurs on workplace grounds. This should include naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.
- Offer positions that are low safety risk roles for those in recovery or those legally taking opioids. These positions may also be used for employees who tested positive during a drug screening and are using drugs for pain management.
- Encourage an environment of open and healthy communication that consists of anonymous reporting of abuse to notify management.
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