As the substance abuse rates rise due to increased opioid use, preventing workplace overdose fatalities is increasingly becoming a reality for employers.
The Kentucky Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation (FACE) Program has issued a hazard alert after 2017 data showed five employees overdosed in the workplace, or 7.4% of the state’s 68 workplace fatalities.
The organization, which is tasked with researching and preventing occupational fatalities, highlighted the following three fatalities in its bulletin:
Case 1: At 8:50 am, a mason working on a construction project left the worksite and entered his personal vehicle located in a temporary employee parking lot. When coworkers searched for him, he was found in his vehicle with his head leaning against the driver side window. The employee was transported to the local hospital where he died. The cause of death was a combined (Fentanyl/Methadone) drug overdose. (2017)
Case 2: An ironworker did not return from a scheduled break that ran from 8:30-8:50 am. At approximately 11:00 am, coworkers found the employee unresponsive in a break room and he was transported to the hospital where he died. The cause of death was an acute methamphetamine overdose. (2017)
Case 3: A residential construction worker was found unresponsive by a coworker in a worksite bathroom. The employee was found with a needle and a spoon near his body. He was transported to the local hospital where he died. The cause of death was a combined (Fentanyl/Heroin) drug overdose. (2017)
Drug use is contributing to an increase in worker turnover, reduced productivity, and increased injury and death rates. The most frequent industries affected as a result of drug overdoses in Kentucky include construction, restaurants/food service and manufacturing, according to Kentucky FACE.
Kentucky FACE also provided recommendations for implementing a drug-free workplace program, which are available in the slideshow.