Observed annually in June, National Safety Month focuses on increasing safety awareness throughout the country on the road, in the home, in our communities and in the workplace. As part of its mission, the National Safety Council (“NSC”) is also raising awareness regarding America’s opioid epidemic, and how theft of controlled substances has contributed to a less stable and safe workplace environment.
TITAN “SAFETY DANCE”
Most individuals associate workplace safety with on-the-job injuries and workers’ compensation claims. However, workplace safety encompasses much more than accidents and injury prevention when it comes to controlled substances. The reality is that if you purchase, prescribe, dispense, administer or transport controlled substances, you are a prime target for theft.
“The reality is that if you purchase, prescribe, dispense, administer or transport controlled substances, you are a prime target for theft.”
As the opioid epidemic continues to reach epic proportions, employee drug theft is an increasing occupational hazard. When the illegal drug supply becomes difficult to obtain, legal drugs become a substitute. Often, the medical facility inventory cabinet is the source of the drugs that are misused. New stories continually dominate headlines with examples of controlled substances misuse and abuse in the workplace.
- SARASOTA, FL: A veterinary technician was arrested for stealing controlled substances from two of the veterinary clinics where she was employed. FULL ARTICLE
- EAST BROOKFIELD, MA: A veterinary technician was charged with stealing 7,800 opioid pills and trying to cover her tracks by changing clinic records. FULL ARTICLE
- AUBURN, GA: A woman was arrested on 20 counts of possession of controlled substances stealing from the Auburn University
College of Veterinary Medicine. FULL ARTICLE
- CHEYENNE, WY: A receptionist was arrested for stealing Tramadol and fraudulently calling in prescriptions. FULL ARTICLE
Run or Pass
The question is not if drug theft will happen, it’s a matter of when. For businesses that interact with controlled substances, the “when” is a guaranteed unknown set to take place any given some day. In football, the offense has two options: run or pass. Those two options can also be applied to facility threats. The goal is to have the right preventative measures in place so that in the event a threatening play is underway, the threat chooses to “pass” on your business.
“The question is not if drug theft will happen, it’s a matter of when. For businesses that interact with controlled substances, the “when” is a guaranteed unknown set to take place any given some day. “
An additional offensive threat to workplace safety is ensuring safe use of prescribed medications while on-the-job. Injured workers are frequently treated with powerful prescription opioid drugs, which have become a primary contributor of the opioid crisis. Every day, more than 115 people die in the United States after overdosing on opioids. Prescription pain medications such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin account for more drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined, and many of those affected are working-age adults. Even when taken as prescribed, opioid pain medications can impair workers on the job.
As the saying goes in football, “anything can happen on any given Sunday”. The same is true for your business. The difference is that in addition to “any given Sunday”, it could also be any given Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…you get my drift! When it comes to your facility, the best defense is a strong offense. A safe workplace is a proactive workplace. Be offensive-minded by taking the necessary steps to assess your risk and implement an action plan before an issue arises. Proactive measures to ensure controlled substance security will ultimately ensure the safety of employers, employees and the communities at large. They are also far easier to implement than trying to mitigate a problem once it has ensued.
Do it NOW, Do it RIGHT
As a player running defense, it’s common to feel at a significant disadvantage against offensive threats. The main reason being that the offense has an entire playbook of plays and formations, and you have no idea which one they will run at any given time. You cannot let fear of the unknown impede your ability to protect and progress. You can reduce the risk of controlled substance threats and theft by making safety and compliance a priority in the “off season”. What is the off season? Anything outside of crisis! Prepare by assessing likely risks followed by a facility-wide action plan with immediately implementable policies and standard operating procedures. As they say in training camp, “Sweat More In Preparation, Bleed Less In Battle.”
Blind Side Opposition
Blind side the opposition with preventative “safety and compliance” measures. Below is a defensive checklist to jump start your ability to have a leg up on the opposition. Consider implementing the following preventative measures to jumpstart safety and compliance for controlled substances:
- Policies: review your workplace policies and SOP’s
- Drug Screening: include commonly abused substances
- Training: recognizing signs of drug misuse abuse and theft
- Education: implement a continued learning educational program for employees along with yearly EAP training
- Background Checks: Institute pre-employment background investigations
- DEA Screening: Utilize the DEA Screening statement during yearly work plan/yearly evaluations
On the field, there is one way, and that way is FORWARD. Successful plays anticipate all scenarios. To be successful against any play threatening your facility today or down the road, you must be forward-minded. What does this mean? DON’T WAIT! If you are not 100% sure that your facility would pass a DEA or regulatory audit let alone an unexpected internal or external threat, don’t wait to find out. Be forward-minded, and set yourself up for success by evaluating if you are at risk with TITAN’s online risk assessment. In roughly 60 seconds, this six-question evaluation will help you determine where you stand.
Running Interference (Remediation)
In some cases, an offensive play is already underway. In those moments when you are surrounded with no remaining timeouts, having a teammate that can run interference and block prospective tacklers is critical. In addition to offering services to prevent internal theft and drug diversion, TITAN also runs interference; assisting businesses working to remediate issues already underway. Don’t attempt to navigate the dark and turbulent waters of internal theft and/or DEA regulatory compliance alone. Let us help you hold the line! TITAN’s team of experts will work to ensure an existing or potential problem does not escalate. Contact TITAN for additional information on remediation services.