NSC Survey: 75 Percent of Employers Report Workplace Affected by Opioids

According to a survey released by the National Safety Council as part of Poison Prevention Week, 75 percent of U.S. employers report that their workplace has been directly affected by opioids, but only 17 percent feel extremely well prepared to deal with the problem.

According to a survey released by the National Safety Council as part of Poison Prevention Week, 75 percent of U.S. employers report that their workplace has been directly affected by opioids, but only 17 percent feel extremely well prepared to deal with the problem.

Survey respondents consisted of decision makers who are involved in, or ultimately responsible for, decisions about their workplace's strategy and policies with regards to health and safety, healthcare benefits, employee policy, and/or drug and alcohol policy.

The survey reports that 38 percent of employers have experienced absenteeism or impaired worker performance, and 31 percent have had an overdose, arrest, a near-miss, or an injury due to opioid use by an employee. Of those surveyed, 86 percent of employers believe taking opioids even as prescribed can impair job performance, but only 60 percent said they have policies in place requiring workers to notify their employer when they are using a prescription opioid. Only half of employers said they were very confident that they had the appropriate HR policies and resources to handle workplace opioid use and misuse.

According to NSC calculations, for the first time in U.S. history, a person is now more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workplace overdose deaths involving drugs or alcohol have increased by at least 25 percent for five consecutive years.

"The opioid crisis is truly encompassing nearly every aspect of American lives. Today's survey confirms that the No. 1 cause of preventable death is not just taking its toll on our home lives, but companies across the country are also grappling with the impact of this epidemic," said Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC. "If there is a silver lining, it's that we have an opportunity to gain the attention and resources of American businesses to combat this societal scourge. NSC is committed to working with employers to define best practices and support a two-pronged approach of confronting the crisis in our homes and workplaces."

A copy of the survey questionnaire and information on the full methodology can be found here. NSC offers additional resources and information about workplace drug misuse here.

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