- The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has introduced introduced a free online opioid toolkit for the state's employers to aid in the fight against the addiction crisis. The toolkit, "A Dose of Reality for Employers," was developed to help workplaces control the risks that businesses, communities and employees and their families are facing due to the opioid epidemic, said Andrew E. Doehrel, president and CEO of the chamber in a statement.
- The toolkit, which includes a five-module course, gives employers an overview of the legal and operational issues they must consider in dealing with employees' use of opioids and other drugs. The 13- to 16-minute modules include best practices for creating a drug-free workplace program, how to draft workplace policies, providing employee assistance and more.
- Anthem BlueCross/BlueShield helped fund the toolkit, and Working Partners wrote and produced the modules.
In 2016, opioids killed a staggering 42,000 people, and 40% of those deaths involved a prescription opioid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The epidemic's impact on the workplace has been so significant that drug overdose is the fastest growing cause of workplace fatalities, surpassing violence, traffic and exposure to toxic chemicals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Increasingly, public and private programs are coming together to try and combat it.
Drug addiction also can trigger legal obligations for employers. The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't protect workers who are currently addicted to illegal substances, but it can provide protections for workers who were previously addicted. Shifting state laws, especially those around marijuana use and protections, are another complication employers must consider when creating effective, compliant drug policies.
Terri L. Rhodes, CEO of The Disability Management Employer Coalition, told HR Dive in a recent interview that employers can take preventive measures to curb opioid addiction by first recognizing the need for pain management. She said that opioids ease many people’s pain, but the result can be debilitating abuse. Some employers are including pain management in their wellness programs to help workers cope with pain disorders.
Awareness, early detection and intervention are key to curbing addiction. Employers can make sure their insurance carriers have procedures for monitoring opioid prescriptions, offer support in employee assistance programs and educate employees about opioid addiction and where they can go for help.