NIOSH Report Details Drug Overdose in U.S. Workplaces

Topics: Opioids

The opioid epidemic continues to be a growing concern for employers of all sizes throughout the country. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), drug use, particularly opioids, can be both a personal risk factor for work-related injuries as well as a consequence of workplace injury hazards. A National Safety Council (NSC) Survey reports that 70 percent of employers state that opioids affect their workplace. It is especially a concern for employers, as opioid use can impact safety on the job, productivity, employee morale and ultimately profitability.

amtrust opioid report

NIOSH Drug Overdose Deaths at Work

NIOSH recently published a report detailing the impact of drug overdoses in U.S. workplaces. The study, “Drug Overdose Deaths at Work, 2011-2016,” detailed the rise of opioid fatalities and its impact on the workplace.

Key takeaways from the study:

• Workplace overdose deaths were low, but had risen considerably (24% annually) over the 5 years studied in the report.
• There are many industries impacted by the opioid crisis, but, the transportation and warehousing, construction, and healthcare and social assistance industries accounted for nearly half of workplace overdose deaths.
• One-third of workplace overdose deaths occurred in businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
• Illicit drugs such as cocaine, cannabinoids and heroin were the largest category of drugs used in workplace overdose deaths.
• Heroin was the single most frequent drug associated with workplace overdose deaths.

The opioid epidemic has had a major impact on the workers’ compensation space. Matt Zender, Senior Vice President overseeing AmTrust’s workers’ compensation product, said that the opioid epidemic has those in the work comp space concerned.

This is why an employer’s workers’ comp program needs to address the opioid crisis head-on to help decrease risk of abuse and the cycle of addiction. The program should be evaluated to ensure that the goal is to provide the best treatment options to restore an injured worker’s overall function while, also preventing the dependency and addiction to prescription opioids.


AmTrust Opioid Prescription Risk Report


AmTrust Financial partnered with Optum Workers’ Comp and Auto No-Fault, a pharmacy care management company, to implement an innovative program to improve outcomes and reduce opioids prescribed to injured workers. The partnership, started in 2018, is decreasing the number of opioids in the system, allowing employees to return to work as soon as medically appropriate and cutting out a potential first step towards opioid dependency.

The program reduced the number of prescriptions that could be deemed as unnecessary or unsafe by 13,000 compared to the prior year and assured that claimants are receiving the right treatment, at the right time and for the right duration. Additionally, AmTrust has seen a drastic reduction in the percentage of opioid-related claims, dropping from nearly 60 percent in Q4 of 2017 to just under 25 percent in Q4 of 2018.

The results of the program can be found in our newly released AmTrust Opioid Prescription Risk Report. Download the report to learn more about the effects of the opioid epidemic on workers’ compensation claims, and take a deeper look into the progress that the AmTrust and Optum partnership has achieved in reducing claims with opioids and replacing these with safer, alternative treatments.

AmTrust has the resources and insight to create customized workers’ compensation insurance solutions for every customer. For more information on small business insurance solutions, contact us today.


This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.
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