PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Health Authority is launching a new program to get employees involved in the fight against addiction.
The program encourages employers to train employees on how to deal with opioids in the workplace — specifically dealing with overdose because five Oregonians die from opioid overdoses every week.
Health officials say overdoses can happen anywhere, including at work.
“The challenge we face is that opioid overdoses are happening regularly and weekly in Oregon. People are seeing it on the streets and in their workplaces, so this is not a rare event unfortunately in our state,”
said Dr. Dana Hargunani, OHA Cheif Medical Officer.
According to the National Safety Council, 75% of employers have been directly affected by opioids, yet less than 25% feel extremely prepared to deal with the issue.
The Oregon Health Authority’s campaign is designed to help employers teach employees how to recognize and reverse an opioid overdose.
Their goal is to connect employers with tools and training so they can come up with their own programs to reverse overdoses.
“The purpose of this campaign is you don’t need to go through a certified training to be comfortable and confident with administering naloxone,” Hargunani said.
Naxolone is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. I can be an injection or a nasal spray that can be administered without much training.
According to USA Today, workers in the construction industry are most likely to use cocaine and prescription opioids due to the high rate of injury and fatalities in that field.
That’s why Steve Clem, the senior VP of project planning services for Skanka said he is already training his staff to use naloxone.
He compared having Naloxone on hand to have an AED or mental health counseling available.
“We’ve decided to add it on to our first aid, CPR, AED, Naloxone training,” Clem said. “We view it as a natural extension of that training that is already underway.”
The Oregon Health Authority is also reaching out to Native American communities, many of which have been affected by the opioid crisis.
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