Opioids are usually prescribed to control pain, often after an injury or surgery. But easy availability and tolerance development are driving addiction levels so high that the Centers for Disease Control has declared an opioid abuse epidemic.
For employers, this enormous problem can affect every corner of the workplace — from warehouse and delivery to front office staff and sales force. High opioid use has been linked to higher accident levels on the job, absenteeism, and elevated healthcare rates.
Rather than focusing on after-the-fact strategies like drug testing and rehab compensation, employers would do well to put more preventative tactics into place. This can often be as straightforward as more extensive injury prevention training.
After all, without accidents and injuries, there would be no ER visits or repetitive stress problems. Consider these three tactics for better injury prevention:
Early Symptom Detection: Opioids aren't just for post-accident care, they're also prescribed for chronic pain, which can originate from migraines to pulled back muscles. By seeing early symptoms that might be nagging now, it's possible to prevent them from becoming larger problems that require medication.
Ergonomic Adjustment: Some irritating issues that could become worse are the result of improper ergonomics, no matter what type of job role an employee may have. Adjusting someone's work setup by assessing posture, positioning and work flow, can reduce muscle fatigue and lower physical strain.
Behavior: In addition to ergonomics, employees may be putting undue stress on their bodies depending on how they work. For example, a warehouse employee may be trained lifting techniques that only apply to the first box off the pallet, but what about the last one? Often, integrating a professional assessment into the workplace can start to alter behaviors that may lead to injuries in the future.
Preventing injury events can significantly reduce the usage of opioids within a workforce, and that has a ripple effect in terms of more cost-effective healthcare, higher productivity, lower turnover, and increased employee morale.