Itasca, IL – More than 107,600 Americans–one every five minutes–died of a drug overdose in 2021 according to newly released provisional data from the CDC. Because 70% of people struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD) are employed, the National Safety Council (NSC) calls on employers to develop recovery-friendly workplaces, establish policies that support worker mental health and substance use recovery, end addiction stigma, and provide necessary resources the workers in our country need.
“Substance use disorders affect everyone, everywhere from our homes to our workplaces and all the places in between,” said Jenny Burke, NSC vice president of impairment practice. “Employers have a responsibility to keep their workers safe and healthy by using the tools available to help reverse this deadly trend.”
NSC urges employers to establish policies that support worker mental health and substance use treatment, and national leaders agree. According to the National Drug Control Strategy issued by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) last month, workplaces are critical to their employees’ treatment and recovery. The strategy states, “it is essential that more employers adopt recovery-ready workplace policies to prevent substance use in the workforce, encourage help-seeking by employees with SUD, provide needed accommodations and workplace supports for those in treatment and recovery, and build recovery-supportive workplace cultures—all of which enhance public health and public safety.”
NSC offers extensive resources to help employers address substance use, mental health and impairment in the workplace, including:
- Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit
- Impairment Recognition and Response Training for Supervisors
- Substance Use Cost Calculator for Employers
- Resources to address additional causes of impairment at work including fatigue and mental distress
“The massive loss of lives due to overdose is shocking,” said Burke. “It highlights the dire need for prevention. Recognizing and responding to impairment caused by substance use and mental distress in the workplace is a critical pathway to preventing injuries and death and helping put workers on the road to recovery.”
NSC is prepared to support workplaces seeking training and support to identify and combat opioid misuse and impairment in the workplace. For more information, visit nsc.org/impairment.