Accidental death in the United States for working age adults is primarily caused by poisoning, more specifically drug overdose. Accidental death is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. (the first and second leading causes of death in the US are heart disease and cancer, according to the CDC.) As such, more than 400 people die each day in a preventable manner.
Drug use is the #1 accidental killer in the adult population in the U.S.
According to the National Safety Council, unintentional poisoning deaths in the adult population were not prevalent until the early 1990s. Since then, this category has skyrocketed to first place, driven by unintentional drug overdose predominantly from prescription painkillers.
The facts from NSC
- The majority of preventable drug overdose deaths involve opioids (70%);
- Preventable opioid overdose deaths increased 14%, and 633%
- The opioid category that includes morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone was involved in 12,255 deaths
- The drug category most frequently involved in opioid overdoses and growing at the fastest pace is synthetic opioids other than methadone (fentanyl, drugs that are chemically similar to fentanyl)
- Fentanyl accounted for 26,211 preventable deaths, representing a 48% increase over the 17,696 total in 2016
- Heroin accounted for the second highest number of deaths, claiming 14,762 lives
What can employers do?
Opioids are in your workplace. The question is now, how will you respond? There are three ways you could respond, and we have recommendations for you depending on your industry and your perspective. This is a crisis in the U.S.; prevent it from becoming a crisis in your workplace by preemptive action.