September 2018

Opioids are Endangering Our Workforce

More than 40,000 Americans died from drug overdoses involving opioids in 2016 and this epidemic reaches into workplaces all across the country.

According to a National Safety Council survey, 7 in 10 employers are impacted by prescription drug misuse. Impacts range from lower productivity and absenteeism to an increase in workplace injuries. The opioid epidemic is even making it harder for some industries and employers to find workers; a 2017 study found that labor force participation is more likely to be lower in counties with high opioid prescribing rates.

The effects on an employer’s bottom line can be costly and the human toll is getting worse. The National Safety Council is working to reverse this upward trend of injuries and fatalities by changing opioid prescribing behavior, educating the public about the risks associated with opioids and increasing access to coordinated and effective treatment for addiction. As an organization devoted to improving the safety of the workplace, NSC is specifically focusing on helping employers address this growing area of concern.

NSC began by first understanding the impact of opioids on the workforce before producing and distributing the resources organizations need to keep their employees safe. These efforts resulted in the creation of a tool to calculate the real effects of substance misuse on your workplace, as well as our Employer Prescription Drug Kit, a collection of fact sheets, safety talks, survivor advocate stories and other materials designed to guide employers in educating their employees on risks associated with opioid use, encouraging safer prescribing and drug disposal habits and developing workplace policies around opioids. All of these resources are offered at no cost with the goal of eliminating preventable injuries and deaths due to opioid misuse and overdose.

The opioid crisis is endangering our future, but the National Safety Council is on a mission to stop it. NSC has identified additional opportunities to make a difference – from initiating new research and surveys to assisting the industries that are hardest hit by this epidemic – and you can be a part of it.

To learn more about NSC efforts and how you can support them, contact Tracy Sadlon at [email protected].

Injured at Work, Overdosed at Home

Rex is well-versed in the demands of safety and environmental compliance. As a safety professional at a utility company, he has dealt with a variety of safety issues. However, his professional training and experience did not prepare him for the unexpected tragedy that occurred outside his workplace.

Rex’s 33-year-old brother, Bill, died of an accidental overdose of methadone on July 12, 2006. A machinist dealing with severe lower back pain for most of his life, Bill had been preparing for surgery to relieve the unremitting pain.

"He had been taking hydrocodone for pain relief but developed a tolerance to it," explains Rex. "His doctor then prescribed methadone. What Bill didn’t understand is that methadone accumulates slowly and remains in the body for a longer period of time than hydrocodone."

Bill took too large of a methadone dose from which he never woke up, leaving beyond a wife, two sons, a large extended family and many friends. Tragically, he joined a burgeoning number of Americans who are succumbing to unintentional drug overdoses.

"My brother was injured at work, but he overdosed at home. So obviously, this isn’t a concern isolated to the workplace," Rex says. "It is an issue that could impact anyone, regardless of income, age, or circumstance."

Rex believes in the importance of a safe workplace and home environment. "I never want to see another person fall victim to addiction, overdose or lack of knowledge when it comes to prescription medication," emphasizes Rex, who has a family.

His personal tragedy has energized him to do what he can to awaken people to the hazards of misusing prescription drugs.

"Organizations need to get information out to their employees and help employees understand the gravity of prescription drug use," Rex says. "It’s a life or death situation."

Over 100 people die from an opioid overdose every day. We need your help. Philanthropic support is essential to reducing the number of opioid overdoses nationwide each year. Join us on the journey to eliminate preventable deaths and DONATE today.

The NSC Scholarship Program

As part of its goal to eliminate preventable deaths, the National Safety Council seeks to support those with a passion for safety. The NSC Scholarship Program allows the Council to provide these motivated individuals with the opportunities and experiences they’ll need to make a difference in the safety of themselves and those around them.

The program is made up of several unique awards, including the Student Member Congress & Expo Program and the Women in Safety Scholarship.

Through these scholarships, NSC supports those just getting started in the safety industry with thousands of dollars in monetary awards and the chance to attend the NSC Congress & Expo – the world's largest annual safety event – at no cost. Awards are given to students engaged in post-secondary education in the field of safety and, in two years, NSC has provided scholarships to twelve current and future safety leaders.

Next spring, NSC will continue this work with the launch of a new scholarship: the Certification Assistance Program. This award will be part of the NSC Advanced Safety Certificate program and will help individuals currently working in safety achieve higher levels of training or certification.

The incredible past and future successes of this program are made possible by NSC supporters who have a passion for eliminating preventable injuries and deaths. The recent launch of the NSC Women in Safety Scholarship was made possible thanks to a generous, multi-year donation from a private individual. NSC seeks funders to support its dedicated resources to provide educational and career advancement scholarships.

To learn more about how you can help support the NSC Scholarship Program, as well as how to apply, visit nsc.org/scholarships.

2019 Green Cross for Safety Awards

The Green Cross for Safety Awards Celebration honors the best and brightest in safety, while raising vital funds in support of mission critical initiatives. Outstanding achievements in safety are recognized through three distinct awards:

SAFETY EXCELLENCE
Recognition for the unrelenting pursuit of exceptional, transferrable safety practices

SAFETY INNOVATION
Recognition for a transformative approach to a long-held challenge in safety

SAFETY ADVOCATE
Recognition for the advancement of best practices to raise awareness or change policy to prevent further injuries and deaths

Winners will be announced at the Green Cross for Safety Awards Celebration on May 16, 2019 in Chicago. Nominations for the 2019 Green Cross for Safety Awards are accepted through Nov. 11, 2018.

To learn more about the award application process or how your company can align its brand with NSC by supporting the 2019 Green Cross for Safety Awards Celebration, please visit greencross.nsc.org.

Donor Spotlight


SafetyServe.com has been a dedicated partner and supporter of the National Safety Council for more than two decades. Even as large changes were afoot, co-founders Wade Mezey (CEO) and Susan Norton (President), wanted to do even more for safety.


In May 2018, Wade and Susan sold SafetyServe.com to TransForce, Inc., a leading workforce solutions provider to the transportation industry. Through that process, SafetyServe made a 6-figure, multi-year commitment to NSC to continue its partnership and commitment to safety through 2023.


SafetyServe.com, a software company and a provider of online safety training courses to companies, government agencies, insurance companies and other organizations, has provided the online platform NSC uses to deliver our NSC safety training. During that time, millions of drivers have received training through their platform.


NSC is grateful to partners like SafetyServe who invest in our mission and trust in us to find the solutions to eliminate preventable deaths in our lifetime.

Fundraise for Safety


Whether you are an individual, family, school or business, you can help save lives by raising awareness and funds through an independently planned fundraising activity or event in support of the National Safety Council. From an office jeans day or school read-a-thon to golf outings and more, any type of fundraiser can make a difference.


Your donation can support many mission initiatives at NSC, including opioids, motor vehicle and workplace safety. If you have a passion for a specific initiative, we will work with you to designate your donation to that area or you can choose to support all NSC programs through our Friends of Safety fund.


Our staff is here to partner with you to ensure your fundraiser is a success! For more information on how to get started, please email Jamie Arquilla at [email protected].