Workplace Deaths from Drugs and Alcohol Up by Almost a Third

Do we blame workplace deaths on substances like opioids, or do we ask why these substances are being abused?

Last year, workplace deaths from unintentional overdoses shot up thirty percent from the previous year. Most of this will be covered as a story about substances becoming too readily available. But another way to look at this is the way we used to talk about vodka consumption in Soviet Russia. No one ever considered the problem to be caused by vodka. Rather, they thought the vodka was overused because of the stress of living under communism.

I suspect that 2017 might show improved numbers.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Drug and Alcohol Deaths at U.S. Workplaces Soar.

The number of U.S. deaths at work from unintentional drug and alcohol overdoses jumped more than 30% in 2016, according to new government data, showing that the nation’s struggle with a deadly opioid epidemic is migrating to the workplace.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries said Tuesday that 217 workers died on the job last year as a result of an unintentional overdose from the nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol, up from 165 in 2015. The number of accidental overdose deaths at work has nearly tripled since the BLS began compiling the data in 2011.

The statistic is part of a bigger problem. Drug overdose deaths surpassed 64,000 last year, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Donald Trump in October declared opioid addiction, in particular, a national public health emergency.

Read the full WSJ story.

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