What to Know About The Opioid Epidemic In The Workplace

Many businesses require mandatory drug testing for new employees, and some will even require it once a year or more if an employee is on probation. Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is becoming a bigger problem in the workplace. One of the biggest issues is that companies are also battling the issue of employees who are taking opioids that are acquired legally.

The Opioid Epidemic

If someone goes to a doctor for pain medication and is given a prescription, they are legally allowed to take it. The problem is that getting these medications is easy. Unless it is under extreme circumstances, you should not be on prescription pain medication and working, despite the fact that sometimes the need for the meds are due to an injury which takes place at the workplace.

Medical costs make up over 60% of worker’s comp claim costs and that number is only increasing. As a company, your ability to not only identify if an employee has an opioid addiction problem and then try to resolve the issue are limited if it is related to an injury suffered at work.

When you factor in the costs and potential risks associated with employing someone battling addiction, it is not good. Combine that with the fact that the drugs are acquired legally from a doctor that the employee saw due to a work-related injury, and you can see why this can be a major issue for companies.

According to the Safety Management Group, prescription drug abuse now impacts over 80% of companies in the United States. This is a problem that cannot be ignored as employers are losing over $25 billion dollars a year to addiction around the country and it needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

How do you identify and combat the problem?

If you are suspicious that an employee is dealing with substance abuse problems, there are a few signs you can look for including random mood swings and changes in attitude. Symptoms could also include: falling asleep during work throughout the day or seeming to have chronic symptoms similar to those caused by the flu, amongst others.

Whether opioid addiction is the cause of or result of a work related injury, you need to protect your company’s interests and make sure that you have a safe workplace. Consulting with your legal team is critical to ensuring that you are handling the situation correctly because it is an issue that needs to be addressed.