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Opioids in the workplace: NIOSH issues fact sheet on initiating a naloxone program

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Washington — NIOSH has published a new fact sheet for employers considering a naloxone program to help prevent opioid overdoses.

Naloxone can halt many life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. It also can reverse loss of consciousness and sedation that result from an overdose. The fact sheet highlights the drug’s limitations and side effects.

Included in the resource are a series of questions for employers as well as topics to consider, such as training staff, personal protective equipment and naloxone storage.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 217 workplace overdose deaths in 2016 from non-medical use of drugs and alcohol, accounting for 4.2 percent of all worker injury fatalities that year. Such deaths accounted for 1.8 percent of the total fatalities in 2013 and have increased by at least 38 percent annually over the four-year period.

According to 2017 data from the National Center for Health Statistics, 115 people die from an opioid overdose every day in the United States.

“With overdose events increasing in the workplace, having naloxone available can provide a tool that workplaces can use, along with first aid measures to support breathing, to provide aid in the event of an opioid overdose while waiting on first responders to arrive on the scene,” NIOSH Director John Howard said in an Oct. 11 press release. “NIOSH developed this fact sheet to help employers decide if having naloxone available is right for their workplace.”

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