NSC: 75% of employers say their workplace has been impacted by opioid crisis

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Itasca, IL — Seventy-five percent of U.S. employers have been directly affected by opioids – yet only 17 percent feel prepared to deal with the issue, according to the results of a survey conducted by the National Safety Council.

Among respondents, 38 percent said opioid misuse has contributed to worker absenteeism or impaired performance, and 31 percent have experienced a worker’s overdose, arrest, near miss or injury.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Employers are more concerned about hiring qualified workers and the cost of employee benefits and workers’ compensation than they are about worker use of legal prescription opioids or illicit use/sale of opioids. However, NSC points out that opioid misuse – legal or illicit – can affect all of the issues employers cited.
  • 86 percent of employers believe taking opioids as prescribed can impair job performance, yet only 60 percent have policies in place requiring employees to notify their employer when they’re using a prescription opioid.
  • Only half of employers are very confident that they have the appropriate human resources policies and resources to deal with opioid use and misuse in the workplace.
  • 79 percent are not very confident that individual employees can spot warning signs of opioid misuse.
  • 41 percent of employers would return an employee to work after he or she receives treatment for misusing prescription opioids.

“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,” Nick Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC, said in a March 18 press release. “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.”

NSC offers a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers manage opioid use at work. For additional resources and information about drug misuse in the workplace, visit nsc.org/drugsatwork.