NIOSH Confronts the Opioid Crisis

By considering the “lifecycle” of opioid use from precursors in the workplace, to use conditions, to containment and decontamination, to strategic responses, NIOSH researchers and practitioners can offer unique recommendations targeted at workers and employers facing this epidemic together. Policies, programs, and practices that address the conditions of work should be considered to protect workers and advance their health and well-being related to opioid exposure, use, and potential misuse.

Key Questions Guiding the Framework

Identify Workplace Conditions

What guidance is needed for employers and medical providers serving workers to prevent medically-prescribed opioid use from becoming an opioid use disorder?  What education do workers need regarding the risks of opioid use?

Determine Risk Factors

What work-related factors, such as injuries, pain, job loss, and stress, may be leading to the use and abuse of opioids?

Protect Workers and Responders

How can we protect workers exposed to opioids and overdoses as part of their job?

Develop Methods for Detection and Decontamination

How can we safely and accurately detect the presence of opioids in the workplace and safeguard workers who must decontaminate these spaces?

1. Use of opioids includes naturally occurring (e.g., morphine, codeine), semi-synthetic (e.g., oxycodone, hydrocodone), and synthetic opioids (e.g., methadone, fentanyls) that are physician prescribed to the worker, or obtained through drug diversion or illicit means.

Page last reviewed: June 15, 2018