HR Management & Compliance

More Tips for Managing Opioids in the Workplace

In yesterday’s Advisor we began to explore ways of dealing with opioids in the workplace. Today we have five more tips.


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3. Host Lunch and Learns and Information Sessions

Offer both mandatory and optional information sessions and training sessions about opioid use and addiction. Have a professional come in during lunch hour and offer your employees free food if they come to your lunch to learn about opioids.

And during your annual safety training, you can have a portion dedicated to the safety risks of working while on painkillers. It’s important to inform your employees of the dangers and risks of using opioids, especially while they’re on the job.

4. Implement a Reporting and Referral Protocol and System

Implement a system for employees to use (especially managers) to report employees who are exhibiting signs of opioid abuse. Allow them to do so anonymously so that they’re more likely to report issues or concerns. This way, you’ll be able to reach out to employees as soon as possible to offer them access to your counseling and employee assistance programs.

And be sure to document your reporting and referral system so that an employee who is reported or referred is less likely to feel unfairly singled out. You can also work with your pharmacy benefits manager to ensure there’s a fraud tip hotline so you can offer a way for employees to report drug misuse or a physician who’s engaging in dangerous prescribing habits.

5. Rely on Healthcare Data Analysis and Information

Don’t be afraid to consult and access aggregate data from your organization’s healthcare provider about what prescription drugs most of your employees are using and what care they’re using. Such information can be shared with the employer in aggregate form if it meets HIPAA’s strict standards for “de-identification.”

You can also access de-identified information about emergency room visits and visits to a physician that involve drug-abuse or opioid-related instances. This information will allow you to better tailor your training programs about opioids and substance abuse to your existing employees. You can even focus on one specific drug and its effects if needed.

6. Promote Counseling and Training Programs

After you design and implement employee assistance programs and training programs for opioid use and abuse, don’t forget to promote them all over your organization. Send out periodic e-mails, post information on digital and physical bulletin boards, etc. It’s imperative that your employees know that such programs exist when they need them.

7. Administer Random Drug Tests

If you notice that a high number of your employees are exhibiting signs of opioid use or abuse, administer drug tests at random. This might deter some employees from becoming addicted. But only do this as a last resort.

Repercussions for Doing Nothing about the Opioid Epidemic

Consider the ways you can tackle the opioid epidemic in the workplace outlined above and in yesterday’s post. Otherwise, your organization might experience some of the following repercussions for doing nothing:

  • Increased number of work-related deaths and insurance claims;
  • Decreased levels in employee productivity and increased rates of employee absenteeism and presenteeism; or
  • A bottom line and profit margin that continue to diminish over time.