A toolkit to help employers address opioid abuse in the workplace

by Amanda Haar

For many painting professionals, pain is a constant companion. Repetitive motion, heavy lifting and general wear and tear on the body lead many to seek relief in any form. All too often, relief comes in the form of a prescribed opioid.

According to research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 21% to 29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. When that happens, opioid prescriptions go from being a solution to a health and safety concern in the workplace—and a challenging problem for employers. It’s with this understanding that the National Safety Council (NSC) developed a Prescription Drug Employer Toolkit.

“Employers are in a unique position to not only help employees find treatment, if needed, but to help them avoid going down the path of opioid abuse to begin with,” said Rachael Cooper NSC’s senior program manager. “We developed this kit to provide employers with the latest research related to addiction and treatment, and the tools to raise awareness and engage with employees on the issue.”


 Available for FREE through the NSC website, the Toolkit includes:

  • Steps for updating your drug-free workplace program
  • Information on the importance of workplace drug testing
  • Guide to common reactions to opioids and serious reactions
  • What to do if you suspect someone may be addicted
  • What to do if an employee tests positive for opioid painkillers
  • Employee-directed literature and materials

Reduced productivity, absenteeism, as well as risks associated with impaired employees using vehicles and equipment are just a few of the many problems that come into play for employers when it comes to opioid abuse, Cooper added.

“The resources and tools in this kit can be an important first step in mitigating those issues and risks, and helping employees avoid a potentially life-threatening issue,” Cooper said.


 June is National Safety Month and a good time to reinforce important safety messages to your entire team. To help with the effort, the NSC is offering four weeks-worth of free downloadable resources including posters, tip sheets, articles and more based around four topics:

  • Week 1: Hazard recognition
  • Week 2: Slips, trips and falls
  • Week 3: Fatigue
  • Week 4: Impairment

NSC members will also receive access to safety videos, 5-minute safety talks, and webinars.

Sign up to receive your FREE National Safety Month resources.

To read more articles on workplace safety issues, visit

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