NIOSH Outlines Agency Efforts to Confront the Opioid Crisis

Published July 11, 2018

A new NIOSH web page outlines the agency’s response to opioid use in the workplace. NIOSH recognizes that the potential for opioid addiction may result from injuries that happen in the workplace and that the effects of opioid use and misuse affect both the work and home environments. The new page describes the agency’s efforts to help workers and employers who are facing the opioid epidemic in their communities. NIOSH plans to obtain relevant data to characterize and address the opioid crisis in workers, conduct field investigations to determine the extent of opioid exposures and the best approaches for prevention, and research risk factors of opioid overutilization among workers and opioid use conditions that affect workers.

The agency has developed a framework for confronting the opioid crisis that includes four key areas: identifying workplace conditions, determining risk factors, protecting workers and first responders, and developing methods for detection and decontamination. NIOSH researchers and practitioners urge stakeholders to consider what guidance is needed for employers and medical providers to prevent workers’ medically-prescribed opioid use from becoming an opioid use disorder, what work-related factors may lead to the use and abuse of opioids, and how they can protect workers exposed to opioids and overdoses while on job. NIOSH also encourages research on how to safely and accurately detect the presence of opioids in the workplace and how to protect the workers who decontaminate these spaces.

NIOSH plans to update the page with new information as it becomes available.