A Note From the Director

| Featured News, OSHA, USF Safety Florida

Combating The Opioid Crisis in America

Dear Reader:

The opioid abuse crisis in the workplace demands our immediate attention.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drug overdose related deaths are on the rise in the United States. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses. Almost 68% of those deaths were the result of a prescription or illicit opioid. This crisis is devastating and impacting workers on a daily basis. 

Several warning signs that managers and supervisors should be cognizant of include:

  • Physical indicators:  Deterioration in appearance and/or personal hygiene, unexplained bruises, sweating, complaints of headaches, frequent use of breath mints/gum or mouthwash, odor of alcohol on breath, slurred speech and an unsteady gait.
  • Psychosocial impacts:   Family disharmony (e.g., how the colleagues speak of family members), mood fluctuations (e.g., swinging from being extremely fatigued to ‘perkiness’ in a short period of time), inappropriate verbal or emotional response and irritability.
  • Workplace performance and professional image: Calling in sick frequently, moving to a position where there is less visibility or supervision, arriving late for work, leaving early, taking extended breaks, forgetfulness, errors in judgement, deterioration in performance and excessive number of incidents/mistakes.

We need to do more to combat this crisis. Know the warning signs and establish a clear written policy on prescription medications. Be sure to educate workers, train employees, consider offering drug testing, and offer an employee assistance program to aid in promoting a drug-free workplace.

Help is available for those who want to rediscover life again. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or substance abuse, there are resources readily available to you.

For help and treatment options for substance abuse and opioid victims, contact the https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment or call the National Helpline 800-662-HELP (4357).

The USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program offers training materials on recognizing drug and alcohol abuse symptoms and behaviors, as well as how to respond when faced with impaired workers. Visit our video library, https://usfsafetyflorida.force.com/s/video-library. All training resources are FREE of charge.

Stay safe,

Brian L. Warrick, PhD, CSP, CIH
Program Director
USF SafetyFlorida