The Opioid Epidemic: Steps You Can Take to Manage Effects, Combat Worker Addiction, and Limit Your Legal Liabilities

Opioids are a powerful class of drug and usage has proven to result in debilitating addictions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose-related deaths are up and six out of 10 of the fatalities involve an opioid. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the United States has quadrupled even though there has not been a change in the amount of pain being reported. The CDC has characterized the situation as an epidemic, and this crisis is particularly concerning for employers.

You have a duty to maintain a working environment that is “free from recognizable hazards … causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employee” under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s (OSHA) general duty clause. Opioid use among your workers could have a serious impact on that environment.

Consider, too, that if an employee is injured on the job, he or she may be prescribed a powerful opioid to manage the pain. The longer the employee is on that medication, the greater the risk of addition. What can your organization do to minimize the risk of addiction when employees are taking prescribed drugs to manage chronic or acute pain?

During this session, you’ll learn:

  • Practical—and legal—steps you should take to manage the impact of the opioid epidemic
  • Recent research showing why opioid usage is a serious cause for concern for employers nationwide
  • The practical impact opioid usage can have on worker productivity and safety, and when you have an obligation to take action under OSHA’s general duty clause
  • Strategies to reduce the risk of employees becoming addicted to powerful opioid painkillers when they’re taking the drugs to cope with a workers’ compensation injury
  • Warning signs of a potential opioid addiction
  • How HR, safety, medical professionals, and workers’ compensation claims adjusters can take steps to help addicted workers manage their issues