Recently I worked with a client to produce a safety manual. This is a well run business. Safety is a prime concern, a day-to-day priority in every aspect of the business.
As I began the project I thought it would be simple to put together a few simple rules like wearing safety helmets while on the job site and using seat belts when driving company cars, but then I ran into “the silent killer” and realized that every business is vulnerable, even the very best ones. The silent killer is the Opioid Crisis which impacts most businesses in the United States.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.
The death rate is gigantic: 192 deaths per day. This is part of the Opioid Crisis.
It can start simply. An employee is injured on the job. The employee goes for medical care. The medical provider isn’t certain how much pain the employee is experiencing and prescribes one of the pain killer drugs that impacts the opioid receptors in the brain.
Our physician friends who prescribe opioids say that a careful med provider will strictly limit the number of pills they prescribe. A scary statistic I read indicated that 90% of those taking prescribed pain medication over a 3 year span of time will become addicted to heroin.
What can be done? Make certain the medical providers used by your firm for Worker’s Comp are sensitive to how they manage pain. Provide safety training for your employees to help avoid injuries. Include the appropriate statements in your policy so that your employees know their obligations to communicate with leadership if they’re using medications that could impair performance. If an employee does come to you with an issue (or if you suspect an addiction issue), remember there are steps you, as an employer, should take (legally) to give the employee an opportunity to receive help. Use your voice to communicate about drugs like OxyContin. Be aware there is a Silent Killer that can kill one of your employees.
As always, do call us with any questions!