Hazard alert targets worker drug use, overdoses in Kentucky

overdose alert chart
Photo: Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center

Lexington, KY — The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center has issued a hazard alert advising employers on how they can help reduce unintentional drug overdoses in the workforce.

“As drug use rises, employers may have increased employee turnover, reduced productivity, increased injury rates and, tragically, drug overdose deaths at work,” states KIPRC, a partnership between the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

The hazard alert recommends employers:

  • Train supervisors to recognize the signs of substance misuse, including extreme mood swings, frequent absenteeism and changes in personality.
  • In safety-sensitive fields, such as mining and construction, implement a workplace drug program that provides intervention services and administers employee drug testing consistent with state laws and regulations.
  • Set up an employee assistance program that offers help for substance misuse and other issues.
  • Keep naloxone onsite. Training on the safe administration of this lifesaving medication can be added to drug-free workplace programs.

In 2017, five workers fatally overdosed at work in Kentucky – representing 7.4 percent of the state’s 68 occupational fatalities that year – according to the alert, which notes that 90 percent of Kentucky’s 1,338 overall fatal drug overdoses in 2016 involved opioids.

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