A Sticky Mix: Prescription Painkillers in the Workplace

Pill bottle with spilling medications over whitePrescription Painkillers in the Workplace

Some employees will argue that they don’t have a pain management problem – rather, they have a pain problem. At the same time, you have to think about the safety of the employee, other co-workers, and your company. Are you defenseless in this situation? Not at all. Here’s how to manage a drug-dependent employee.

Evaluate Your Drug Policy

The first step is to evaluate what types of drugs you do and do not allow at the workplace. Keep in mind that any drugs you ban, such as prescription drugs, may negatively affect your workforce. Additionally, you should do this with the help of HR, legal council, and the National Safety Council.

A sound drug policy will not only reduce or eliminate accidents at work, but it will also make employees feel safe at work too. The last thing you want is a drug policy that makes it possible for a catastrophic accident to occur. That’s just asking for a lawsuit. If you want to know what a negligence lawsuit can do to a company, click here.

Institute an Employee Safety and Training Program

An employee safety and training program will educate employees on the safety and risks of prescription drugs. Rather than encourage or discourage use of permissible drugs at work, you should focus more on abuse or misuse.

Specifically, you should discuss the dangers concerning operating a motor vehicle while taking prescription meds, using other peoples’ medications in the absence of an individual’s prescribed medications, and what the state law says about taking medications on the job.

Promote an E.A.P.

An Employee Assistance Program will help employees with substance abuse problems find help through a third-party counseling program. If an employee is abusing drugs at work, they can find confidential help without fear of retaliation. While they may be taken off of the job site, or suspended until the problem is under control, the help should be available so that you don’t just cut a valuable employee loose.

Address Prescription Medications Through A Drug-Testing Program

Drug use may be necessary for an employee to function normally, but it may also turn into a bad habit and abuse. Regular drug screenings can help reduce your liability and uncover hidden abuses at work. You can also make drug screenings unscheduled so that employees don’t have time to cover their tracks, fake test samples, or cover up or clear their bodies of drugs prior to testing.

Drug programs are sometimes controversial, so make sure that your employees know, prior to hiring, and through special employee education initiatives, that there will be special drug screenings at both regular and irregular intervals and that these screenings are a condition of employment.

Work With Your Insurers

Both your health insurance company, and your workers’ comp company, can help you figure out what medications an injured employee is on and whether this presents a clear and immediate risk to co-workers or the company as a whole. You can also get general data and special approvals for opioid use on the job for employees who truly need painkillers.

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