Today the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pension and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a joint hearing on how the opioid epidemic is affecting workplaces and communities. Members heard about how employers are impacted by the epidemic and how they are addressing opioid misuse via workplace drug testing. Witnesses discussed how employers are using Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that provide confidential assistance with drug abuse problems. A recent survey by the National Safety Council reported that 70 percent of all U.S. companies and 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have an EAP to assist employees struggling with substance abuse and other problems.

“We must understand that the federal government must not act as a barrier or tie the hands of employers when it comes to addressing opioid abuse in the workplace,” said Rep. Tim Walberg. “Rather, we should fortify employers’ efforts to help their employees and family members, who are affected by this epidemic.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne added, “Employers are recognizing the risks that opioid abuse has on the workplace, and it is reassuring to hear that businesses large and small are taking steps to address this problem in their organizations.”

It remains unclear how or if OSHA and MSHA will directly address the opioid epidemic.

Husch Blackwell partners Brian Hendrix and Stephen Cockerham presented a related webinar recently: “Creating Safe, Drug-free Workplaces That Comply With OSHA’s Latest Guidance.” You can view the webinar on demand by clicking here.

Today, OSHA announced a further two-week delay in the deadline for employers to submit their 2016 injury and illness data electronically to the agency. The new deadline will be December 15, 2017. That will mark the first time that employers are required to routinely submit such data under a new rule issued during the Obama administration. Continue Reading Does your business have to give OSHA injury data by December 15?