Opioid Abuse and Workers’ Compensation
In December, CDC released a guideline for public comment regarding the prescription of opioids for treating chronic pain. Statistics indicate a 200 percent increase since 2000 in fatal overdoses attributable to opioids (including heroin and prescription medications) in the United States. Since opioids are often prescribed through workers’ compensation programs, NIOSH has requested suggestions for additional resources for its Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies. The information below appears in a 2013 report from the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions titled “Reducing Inappropriate Opioid Use in Treatment of Injured Workers: A Policy Guide.” The report summarizes recent research on the use of opioid prescription drugs in workers’ compensation systems and suggests several public policy responses.
From the NIOSH Science Blog: “The use of prescription opioids may impact the ability of a person to return to work, and ultimately can negatively affect their livelihood. If workers are under the influence of opioids while they are at work, they are likely to be at increased risk for injury. For workers in safety sensitive jobs, such as transportation and operators of heavy equipment, there will be increased risks for catastrophic events that impact many besides the worker.”
From statement of former CSB chair Rafael Moure-Eraso, Sep. 15, 2014: “There are safer alternative ways to demonstrate the same scientific phenomena, and many teachers are already using them. Any use of methanol or other flammables should be either avoided completely or restricted to minimal amounts, which have been safely dispensed at remote locations. Bulk containers of flammable liquids must never be positioned or handled near viewing audiences, especially when there are potential ignition sources present.”
Editor's Note: Fumes vs. Vapors
The original wording from the Center for Public Integrity's report "Common Solvent Keeps Killing Workers, Consumers" mistakenly refers to "fumes" in a context where "vapors" is the correct term. The Synergist has corrected this error in the digital edition.
Unfortunately, the error found its way into the print version of the November issue. The Synergist regrets the error and will publish a correction in the December issue.
Ed Rutkowski, editor