A recent study across Indiana has shown that over eight percent of Indiana employers have had to deal with issues and concerns resulting from the growing opiate epidemic. This poll was conducted by the National Safety Council with two hundred employers around Indiana and brought back widespread concern. The majority of employers are now viewing the abuse of prescription drugs as a problem that is more dangerous and important than the abuse of illegal drugs.
Almost twenty percent of these employers have stated that they have either seen or reported a near miss or injury on their job site due to issues with prescription drug abuse. In addition, a little under sixty percent of those polled stated that they had seen someone using prescribed opiates on the job. This falls in line with other workplace impacts, such as the increase in impaired judgement while on the job that 35% of those who responded noted as well as the 40% of respondents who stated that an employee had missed work due to prescription drugs.
This data shows that abuse of prescription drugs at work is an area of high concern in the state of Indiana, especially with the high percentage of manufacturing jobs. While Greg Zoeller, the Indiana Attorney General has created and co-chaired on their Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force that was launched in 2012, Zoeller is still struggling. He has reached out to the local business community and asked them to address the growing opiate crisis to minimize the associated risks.
However, this study also found that less thirty percent of employers in Indiana trained their supervisors on how to deal with the issue of opiate abuse. Due to this, more than sixty percent of the staff does not feel confident that they can recognize and address issues of addiction in the workplace. This is especially difficult when employees are using painkiller prescriptions legally. Many people who are receiving opiate pills are not aware that the drug's warning label about the operation of heavy machinery also extends to driving a car.
While there are struggles with legal prescriptions, the majority of issues are stemming from the addictive quality of opiates that are causing issues. A little under 25% of employers have reported instances of their employees either borrowing or selling their prescription while at work. These concerns coupled with the reports data is hoped to make a difference in Indiana's workplace drug concerns.
It is suggested that employers take a few steps to protect their workers, with the first being comprehensive drug testing. While the majority of businesses do conduct drug screenings, only 52% test for synthetic opioids. They can also improve their overall training while establishing policies regarding drug use. They can also establish programs that increase the likelihood of an employee getting their job back after treatment. Currently, it is shown that seventy five percent of employers will not allow someone with an opiate addiction to come back to work and consider their addiction an appropriate reason to fire someone.
The chief medical director for global benefits and health wellness for Cummins Incorporated, Dexter Shurney, says that firing those who are addicted to painkillers is going to cost more than helping them get off drugs. He suggested that employers stand by their employees as much as they can.
The National Safety Council conducted this survey from May 13th through August 20th. Indiana is the first state to undergo such polling.