A Dose of Reality
Prescription painkillers are a health and safety issue in the workplace. Prescription painkillers can be helpful and beneficial for treating pain, but they have the potential to cause impairment, which increases the risk of workplace error and injury. Employee prescription painkiller abuse increases workers’ compensation costs, the amount of work time lost, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and other medical costs.
According to the National Safety Council, 23% of the U.S. workforce has used prescription drugs non-medically. Even employees who take a regular, prescribed dose, may in some cases be too impaired to work.
The financial impact of prescription painkillers in the workplace is dramatic. Injured workers who are prescribed opioid painkillers have average total claim costs four times greater than similar claims from workers who were not prescribed opioids. Prescription painkiller abuse costs U.S. businesses nearly $26 billion a year due to absenteeism, lost work and productivity, and other expenses.
What Employers Can Do
Because prescription painkillers are legal drugs prescribed by healthcare professionals, their use by employees create unique challenges for employers, especially because sometimes painkillers are prescribed to treat pain caused by workplace-related injuries.
Educate employees about:
- What state law says about driving while using prescription drugs. In Minnesota, you can be charged with a DWI, if you are impaired by a legitimately prescribed medication.
- The risks of taking prescription painkillers while performing safety-sensitive jobs.
- How to get help.