Drugs Worker Health and Wellness

COVID-19 pandemic: NSC warns employers to prepare for a surge in addiction issues

Photo: Stuart Ritchie/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — In response to news that at least 30 states are reporting increases in fatal opioid overdoses amid the COVID-19 pandemic – coupled with an ongoing concern about mental illness and substance use disorders – the National Safety Council is calling on employers to address worker stress, as well as emotional and mental health, now and as traditional work functions resume.

The council also is warning employers to prepare for an increase in substance misuse.

“Every single employee is facing an incredible amount of stress right now,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in June 9 press release. “Employees need mental health resources and support both in the immediate future and down the line. Employees would benefit from having employer support through these difficult times. It can make a significant difference for their mental and physical health.”

Via its SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns initiative, NSC is providing resources and tools for employers to address mental health concerns as part of the reopening process and assist workers who might be experiencing stress caused by financial, employment and child/family care instabilities, as well as fear of being exposed to or infected by COVID-19.


Recommendations for employers are laid out in SAFER’s Stress, Emotional and Mental Health Considerations Playbook. NSC also has created a how-to guide for addressing employee stress and anxiety over returning to work.

Additionally, employers are encouraged to implement opioid policies and procedures as part of their return-to-work strategy. Policy guidance is available in the NSC Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit. “Drug overdose – primarily from opioids – is the leading cause of preventable death for American adults,” the release states. “In fact, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than a car crash.”

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