43% Of Drug Overdoses Occur at the Workplace
people died of drug overdoes in 2021 in U.S.
Consider Adding Naloxone to Your Workplace
Open to the public and warehousing are two high risk locations.
on your circumstances, doing so could save a life.
With opioid overdoses rising to record numbers,
federal agencies and safety
organizations in the United States are urging employees to supply their
workplaces with naloxone (aka Narcan) nasal spray,
which can reverse the effects of an overdose if administered quickly enough.
In Canada, the government of
Ontario, under a new law
enacted in June, is requiring employers
in certain high-risk industries like construction to have these naloxone kits at
worksites and train employees on how to use them or face liability for overdoses
and potentially steep fines if they do not deploy the kits.
Although the U.S. government has not yet mandated that naloxone kits be kept in
the workplace, safety experts have strongly recommended that employers do so. As
early as 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended its use by the general
By now it has become quite
common for police officers, emergency medical services provider and community
service workers to carry the naloxone kits, and many lives have been saved as a
Less than a year ago,
CDC researchers also urged
employers acquire the kits.
“Overdose deaths occur across the workforce but are more common in some
As much as 43% of all drug
overdoses deaths at work occurred specifically in the
transportation and warehousing,
construction, and healthcare and social assistance sectors,” they observed.
In 2021, the
National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) produced a video, “Addressing
Opioid Overdoses in the Workplaces,” to help employers and workers
better understand the risk of opioid overdose and
encourage employers to
establish a workplace naloxone availability and use program.
This video was based on a NIOSH factsheet:
NIOSH Video: “Addressing
Opioid Overdoses in the Workplaces,” produced Mar 9, 2021, 5:34 minutes
Using Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose in the Workplace: Information for
Employers and Workers
The National Safety Council (NSC) also has issued
guidelines for employers
considering stocking their workplaces with the kits. “Any opioid user—which may
include employees, visitors or passersby—is at risk for an opioid overdose,” NSC
It stresses that employers should
take certain steps before
acquiring the kits and starting a workplace program.
Policies and procedures should be developed by a core group of representatives,
including human resources, safety and health professional employees, and a legal
representative, NSC recommends.
Issues the council says employers should consider include liability and other
legal issues; recording and documenting trainings and incidents while protecting
the privacy of the victims; and
defining clear roles
and responsibilities for potential responders to a suspected opioid overdose.
One of the concerns arising from the prospect of initiating a naloxone program
is the issue of potential legal liability.
All 50 states and the District
of Columbia have some form of naloxone access law,
although how those laws are written can vary widely.