NIOSH Launches Framework to Combat Opioid Crisis

NIOSH’s new framework considers “the ‘lifecycle’ of opioid use from precursors in the workplace, to use conditions, to containment and decontamination, to strategic responses,” in order to provide recommendations for workers and employers to handle the opioid epidemic together, according to the framework materials.

The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a new framework that approaches the opioid crisis from a workplace perspective, examining different working conditions that can pose risk factors for medically prescribed opioid use becoming opioid misuse or abuse. NIOSH’s framework includes guidance for detection of opioids and effective, safe decontamination of workplaces.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overdose deaths in the workplace from non-medical use of drugs or alcohol increased by at least 38 percent each year between 2013 and 2016. In addition, new analysis from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that certain job groups, such as construction or extraction, may have a higher risk of death from opioids.

“The opioid epidemic reaches into every aspect of American life – including the workplace,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “CDC is working to understand the impact of different technologies to minimize risk and protect our nation’s workers and responders.”

NIOSH’s new framework considers “the ‘lifecycle’ of opioid use from precursors in the workplace, to use conditions, to containment and decontamination, to strategic responses,” in order to provide recommendations for workers and employers to handle the opioid epidemic together, according to the framework materials.

The framework is guided by four key focuses: identifying workplace conditions, determining work-related risk factors for opioid use and abuse, protecting workers and responders from opioid exposure, and developing methods for detection and decontamination. The agency provides resources for employers and workers as well.

“The opioid crisis is one of the most pressing public health challenges our nation faces today, and the workplace is not immune,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “We are working with our partners to better understand what places workers at risk for opioid use and misuse, and identifying what research and information is needed to keep workers and first responders safe at work and in their communities.”

The NIOSH effort is part of the larger work of the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in combating the opioid crisis.

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