Employer Cost of the Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid Epidemic and Employer Cost

The opioid epidemic is not just a public health issue – but also a workplace safety issue. Overall the opioid epidemic has created a financial burden for employers of all sizes in the form of a diminished labor force, compromised productivity, higher health care costs, and higher recruiting and training costs.
Despite a rising population in the U.S., there’s been a 4% decrease in the labor force since 2000.1 The National Bureau of Economic Research considers the opioid epidemic a contributing factor to this decline.2

Lost Productivity and Absenteeism

Productivity suffers when you have employees who don’t show up to work. The National Safety Council (NSC) found employees with a pain medication disorder miss an average of 29 days of work each year.3
Our internal data on workers’ compensation trends and risks indicates workers’ compensation claim costs are three to four times higher for claimants taking opioids and disability claim durations are 25% longer. When an employee is out of work, overtime replacement costs are just the tip of the iceberg. The total impact actually includes productivity loss for coworkers, training, and managers’ time. In manufacturing, this adds up to 4.9 times the employee’s salary. In construction, the cost is even higher at 5.5 times the employee salary.

Cost of Finding New and Temporary Employees

If your employees don’t show up for work, you may have to find new or temporary workers to replace them. And just finding and training that temporary replacement can cost you about 21% of the salary of the worker you’re trying to replace.4 If your employee had a higher salary, specialized skills or more education, you’ll likely spend even more.

Opioids and an Increased Risk of Injury

Opioid misuse affects businesses in all industries. But, if you’re already working in a high-risk industry, like construction or manufacturing, opioid use poses an even greater threat. If one of your employees take opioids while on the job, it can:5
  • Impair their judgment
  • Slow their reaction time
  • Lead to mistakes
  • Put them and other employees at risk of injury
The NSC recommends checking your current workplace policy to see if it addresses opioid use while on the job.6 Make sure your employees understand your drug use policy and the dangers of taking drugs on the job. You can also provide resources to educate your employees on opioids and how they impact their bodies.7
Don’t forget; you can also ask your workers’ compensation insurer if it offers programs to help make your workplace safer and how to prevent the risk of opioid addiction. For example, our risk engineering team has specialists who help businesses find ways to operate more safety and efficiently.

Find Out Your Business Cost from the Opioid Epidemic

In our national survey, 67% of HR professionals said opioid use currently impacts their companies or it will in the future.8
To find out how much it affects your business, you can use a cost calculator created by Shatterproof with NSC. The calculator bases your costs on:
  • Number of employees
  • Industria
  • Estado
After entering your information, you'll get a report on the financial impacts different substance uses can have on your business. Your report tells you your business’ total cost, broken out into three categories:
  • Lost time
  • Job turnover and retraining
  • Asistencia Médica
The report is only an estimate, but it can be an eye-opener when you see how much the opioid epidemic impacts a business like yours. Your report also shows you how much your business can save if you invest in employee health and wellness, education and treatment resources. It shows you there are proactive things you can do to have a positive impact against the opioid epidemic and small business.
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The Hartford, “Opioids in the Workplace”
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