Naloxone training in the workplace is expected to become mandatory as a result of Ontario’s headstrong plan to get ahead of its opioid overdose crisis. In fact, data shows that since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak at the end of 2019, opioid overdoses have increased. The Ontario government has introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2022 which require workplaces such as Construction sites and night clubs with higher risk of overdoses, to have a Naloxone kit and someone trained nearby. The goal is to avoid workplace overdoses and deaths further, and this new legislation raises the amount of fines for employers and individuals who do not comply.
Read on to find out how Ontario and your employer are going to be working together to bring life saving naloxone kits to high-risk workplace settings and what it means for you.
Legal Disclaimer: This is not intended to be taken as legal advice. This is for information purposes only, meant to inform of upcoming changes to safety legislation. Please seek independent legal advice to clarify any questions you may have. We have also linked to our sources of information for your benefit.
What Workplace settings are Most Known for Opioid Overdoses?
Between 2020 and 2021, 2,500 people have died from opioid related injuries. Thirty percent of those deaths were construction workers, making the construction industry greatly impacted by the opioid crisis. Not just in Construction though, bars and night clubs are also high risk settings for employees to have access to opioids for any reason. That is why the Government of Ontario is bringing these life saving measures into place, giving employers and our peers the ability to save lives during the work day.
What is going to change for the Construction Industry when Naloxone Kits become available?
Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and allow time for medical attention to be delivered. Having kits on hand will reduce the stigma around opioid abuse on Construction Sites and possibly reduce deaths by raising awareness about the signs and risks of accidental overdose. This new proposed training could save hundreds of lives a year potentially. There are larger proposed fine increases for employers and individuals who do not comply by having a kit on hand. Having staff trained could become mandatory, creating another essential workplace safety training opportunity. Fines can go up to $1.5 million under the Occupational Health and Safety Act if convicted. Other fines for individuals will rise up to $500,000.
Where does Naloxone fit in when someone onsite has overdosed?
Overdosing can happen accidently, as these opioids can often be prescribed for pain. Each individuals tolerance level to the opioids are different, but they should consult their doctors or pharmacists for instructions on how to use it properly. Naloxone training in the workplace will be able to give an individual the knowledge they need to spot an overdose and interject in the outcome of it. The proposed kits will only will work if there are defined opioids in the system such as:
Naloxone is safe to use on someone who is unconscious but only works temporarily and for 20-90 minutes. Please consult with a safety professional before doing so, or ensure that you have Naloxone training first. Effects of opioids can linger much longer and require a second or third dose of Naloxone to counteract it. While Naloxone kits successfully reverse thousands of overdoses across Canada, it is important to mention that people who have it used on them, may become aggressive due to the process of Naloxone in their systems releasing.
How to Administer Naloxone Kits:
Nasal Spray Instructions:
When Will Naloxone Become Mandatory in Ontario, Canada?
The proposal, if accepted, would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act to require an employer who becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that there may be a risk of a worker having an opioid overdose at a workplace where that worker performs work for the employer to provide a naloxone kit in that workplace. At this time, the date is not determined.
How Will Naloxone Kits Be Implemented in Construction Sites?
Employers would be required to keep the naloxone kits in good condition and somewhere accessible. The employer would be required to ensure that, at any time there are workers in the workplace, the naloxone kit is in the charge of a worker who works in the vicinity of the kit and who has received training on:
- Recognizing an opioid overdose
- Administering naloxone
- How to control any issues related to the administration of naloxone
Privacy Fact: Employers would be prohibited from disclosing personal information than is reasonably necessary to comply with the new law.
In Conclusion: Naloxone Training in the Workplace
Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the side effects of an opioid overdose. The working for workers act will reinforce work site safety by introducing Naloxone training and kits to each construction site. These new measures could save hundreds of lives a year potentially. Construction sites are at high risk of potential overdose situations. It is important to be open with your employer about your health if you feel comfortable. Employers cannot disclose this information you tell them about your condition unless it is for legal reasons to help the individual’s safety. Help end the stigma of opioid abuse, get trained on how to use a Naloxone kit ahead of time, and learn what the signs are of an overdose to potentially save a life.
Safety First Consulting extends their hearts to all those who have experienced workplace injury or death. Let’s work together – safety is everyone’s responsibility.