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Workplace overdose deaths have increased 536 percent since 2011

Employers play a role in prevention

Posted October 27, 2023

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees, but what can be done to prevent overdose deaths in the workplace?

The CDC estimates there were 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2021. More alarmingly, workplace overdose deaths have increased 536 percent since 2011. A National Safety Council (NSC) survey found that 75% of employers reported opioid use has impacted their workplace, but only 17% reported feeling prepared to deal with the problem.

To address these shocking numbers and prevent workplace overdose deaths, employers can:

  • Implement policies prohibiting employees from working while under the influence of any drug.
  • Maintain an evaluation and testing protocol when employees are suspected of working while impaired.
  • Train employees on the written policy.
  • Partner with human resources personnel to ensure fair investigations of affected employees.

As an added solution, there are programs for employers such as NSC’s Respond Ready Workplace which aims to address the opioid crisis in the workplace.

Additional resources can be found at

This article was written by Rachel Krubsack of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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