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Bill aimed at readying workplaces to respond to opioid overdoses


Washington — Bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the House would direct OSHA to create employer guidance on acquiring opioid overdose reversal medication and training workers on its use.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) introduced the Workplace Overdose Reversal Kits (WORK) to Save Lives Act on Sept. 12. The bill has 16 co-sponsors. 

Under the bill, OSHA would have nine months after the legislation is enacted to publish the nonmandatory guidance.

Data from the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts website shows that overdose deaths of all types accounted for nearly 9% of workplace injury deaths in 2021. In July, the Food and Drug Administration approved a second over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray – ReVive – for emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. The move followed the agency’s approval of Narcan in March.

In a press release, Watson Coleman said the legislation “will finally give workplaces the tools to save workers who are struggling with opioid addiction. Getting these overdose reversal medications – and training in their use – to as many employers as possible has the potential to save countless lives.”

NSC is among a group of organizations endorsing the bill. The council is working to further reduce workplace overdose deaths through its Respond Ready Workplace program – a collection of information and resources intended to raise awareness of naloxone and training to administer it.

“Giving someone a second chance at life can be as easy as a quick demonstration and access to a simple tool,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in the release. “In our current world, it is paramount to acknowledge the lifesaving capacity of medications like naloxone. Supporting the WORK to Save Lives Act means boldly declaring that America cannot – and will not – continue to ignore this national crisis.

“Naloxone is first aid when someone is experiencing an opioid overdose, and having it available wherever people gather, including workplaces, is imperative. Together, we can empower our nation to save lives, one simple action at a time.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

“We have a duty to our family, friends, neighbors and businesses to help ensure workplaces feel confident to respond to emergencies and utilize overdose reversal medication – saving lives,” Merkley said in the release.

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