Drug abuse has changed. The prescription opioid epidemic – overprescribing, misuse, abuse and overdose – is a serious risk to employees and generates substantial costs for employers. It’s time to revisit your policies. Employers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their teams by understanding the impact of prescription opioid use and misuse in the workplace and effectively communicating to employees.
Re-Evaluating Drug-Free Workplace Policy and Drug Testing
Drug-Free workplace programs are cost-effective programs that will help employers save money and keep their employees safe. Effective programs should consist of these five components:
- A clear, written policy. Good policy has never been more important. Unlike blood alcohol levels, proving an objective measure of unsafe impairment is difficult. The involvement of legal counsel in tandem with human resources and employee relations is critical to ensure the policy includes protections for risk management, injury prevention and liability.
- Employee education. Employers should address several areas when sharing information with employees about opioid medications.
- Supervisor training. With the changes in drug use over the past several years, it is important for managers to be current on their workplace policy for prescription drug use, understanding potential signs of impairment and the updated process and scope of drug testing. Managers should communicate this information regularly with employees during individual and team meetings.
- An Employee Assistance Program. It is in an employer’s best interest to identify opioid abuse and to support confidential access to treatment. Employer-sponsored treatment is a cost effective solution. Replacing an employee costs an employer between 25 percent to 200 percent of their annual compensation. These costs do not include the loss of company knowledge, continuity and productivity.
- Drug testing. Employer drug testing programs must address non-medical drug use and prescription drug abuse in the workplace. Written policies need to reflect the specific actions both employees and employers must take.
Valuable Partners: Healthcare Benefit Plan Providers
Company healthcare benefits providers and workers’ compensation carriers are critical to employee safety and prevention programs for prescription opioid use. Working closely with these important partners helps employers understand the extent of opioid use and the need for programs to prevent and manage opioid abuse.
Call To Action:
- Partner with Insurance, Medical/PBM, and EAP Providers
- Re-Evaluate Policy and Testing for Prescription Drugs
- Invest in Management and Employee Education
- Increase and Ensure Confidential Access to Help and Treatment
Download The Proactive Role Employers Can Take: Opioids in the Workplace report provided by the National Safety Council.