How Employers Can Minimize the Risk of Opioids in the Workplace

Throughout the pandemic, businesses have had to adapt to survive. Companies nationwide are navigating remote working and making workplaces COVID-safe. The coronavirus has put a spotlight on the health and well-being of employees in all industries and the economic impact caused by COVID-19. One risk that can jeopardize both the health of your workplace and your bottom line is the misuse of opioids. Opioid deaths only aid the nation’s struggle and can put your business at risk.


Typically, it is the responsibility of the individual to ensure they receive the help and support needed for their wellbeing. However, we can’t ignore the overwhelming effects that opioids have on the workplace. The CDC indicated employees with a substance use disorder miss an average of 15 days of work per year, while those with an opioid use disorder miss a shocking 29 days a year. All of this results in higher annual healthcare costs for an employee.


Opioids prescribed for work-related injury can result in impairment and increase workplace accidents and errors. Addiction and overdose are highly likely, with people becoming addicted as soon as three days after the start of an opioid. It is essential as a business owner to protect your team and bottom line from instances that can cause damage.


A drug-free workplace program is crucial in addressing opioid use and abuse in the workplace. Components should include:

  • A formal written drug-free workplace policy (seek input from legal counsel, if necessary)
  • Employee and supervisor education
  • Reporting requirements
  • Violation notification and ongoing review


Those businesses with a drug-free workplace program tend to have a lower volume of workplace injuries, saving them both time and money.


You may not think about it, but the effects opioids have on workers’ compensation are vast. Studies of workers’ compensation claims found that opioid use for the treatment of chronic pain increases the duration and cost of workers’ compensation claims, prolongs disability, and decreases the functional gain after an injury.


Both employees and employers can do more to learn about how opioids impact the health of the individual and the bottom line of the business.


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