Employers: If You Think You Can't Address Opioids and Fatigue At Work, Think Again

Fatigue and opioid use impact safety, productivity, retention and engagement. Employer toolkits show what you can do.

Kelly Nantel
September 30, 2019

At the National Safety Council, we focus on developing innovative materials and programs to make workplaces safer. Workplace impairment can stem from prescription drug use (even when taken as prescribed), illicit drug use, alcohol and fatigue. Greater awareness and the shifting line between on-the-job and off-the-job safety has created a need for employers to address workplace impairment in new ways – head on. But where to start?

NSC subject matter experts have developed new, free resources to help safety professionals, supervisors, HR professionals and everyone who goes to work learn more about opioids and fatigue, and how to address them in the workplace. These comprehensive toolkits can help employers understand the deep impact both fatigue and opioids have on their workforce and how they can help mitigate and manage these issues to keep employers safer on and off the job.

Fatigue at Work Employer Toolkit

More than 43% of workers report being sleep-deprived, and 13% of workplace injuries are caused by fatigue. The free NSC Fatigue Cost Calculator provides an estimate of the bottom-line impact of injuries, incidents and lost productivity due to fatigue with just four data points. However, the importance of addressing fatigue goes beyond just the dollar cost. When employees see that their employer cares about their wellbeing, including the time they spend away from work, it’s a clear way to build engagement and loyalty, and build on a workplace culture where safety and wellbeing are at the center.

The new Fatigue at Work Employer Toolkit is a free tool that can help employers develop a fatigue risk management system based on the latest research and best practices. In addition, NSC members have exclusive, free access to policy templates that act as a step-by-step guide to program implementation.

Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit

With 75% of companies being directly impacted by opioid use and the crisis worsening year after year, all organizations must be prepared to deal with opioids at work. The National Safety Council has created a suite of free resources to help employers take the lead in reducing the impact of the overdose crisis on the workplace and keeping employees safe.

The free Substance Use Cost Calculator provides an eye-opening estimate of the costs of substance use and misuse, while the free Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit addresses the workplace implications of opioids from multiple angles. With eight key recommendations and a variety of materials and tools for supervisors, environmental safety and health professionals, human resources professionals and employees, there are many paths and options for employers to follow, providing a customizable experience that can help employers – no matter their size, location or industry.

Recovery is good for business – and employers are good for recovery. Research shows that employers play a key role in creating a supportive environment for employees that may be struggling, and that treatment outcomes tend to be much better in the long run when treatment is initiated at the urging of an employer rather than family and friends alone. Plus, employees in recovery miss fewer days at work, incur fewer healthcare costs and tend to stick with supportive employers, reducing turnover rates.

These new tools put employers in the lead on addressing these growing safety challenges and ensuring that people are able to live their fullest lives, from the workplace to anyplace.

Kelly Nantel

Kelly Nantel is a globally recognized strategist and communications thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in executive communications, policymaking and crisis planning and response.

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