Drug, Alcohol Workplace Deaths Up 30% Last Year

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The number of U.S. deaths at work from drug and alcohol overdoses jumped more than 30 percent last year, showing that the nation’s struggle with a deadly opioid epidemic is migrating to the workplace, the Wall Street Journal reports. 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 2011.

Addiction experts agree on the most effective way to help opioid addicts: Medication-assisted treatment. Most inpatient rehab facilities in the U.S. don’t offer this option. The Department of Labor will respond by working “with public and private stakeholders to help eradicate the opioid crisis as a deadly and growing workplace issue,” said Loren Sweatt of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Deaths due to workplace violence increased 23 percent last year from the year before, making that the second most common cause of death on the job in 2016 after transportation incidents. The number of workplace suicides rose 27 percent in 2016 from the year before, to 291, the highest number since the census began recording the number of suicides at work in 1992.

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