Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrate that workplace overdose deaths are up 25 percent or more per year since 2010, yet fewer than one in five companies feel well-prepared to combat the increasing opioid crisis. Large employers spend significantly more on treating opioid abuse and overdoses than they did a decade ago, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, but those figures do not include the cost of lost productivity. Workers who misuse pain medication miss an average of 29 days per year, compared with 10 and a half days for other employees. One of the most affected sectors is construction, where two in five workers’ compensation claims for prescriptions included an opioid in 2016. On-the-job injuries are common in that industry, and many workers begin their addiction with a prescription intended to help get them back to work. Experts say that employers are uniquely positioned to take action through random drug tests, changes to health policies that limit opioid prescriptions to five days, and incentives to get workers into addiction treatment.
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Image Credit: Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News via The New York Times