Naloxone is a medication that has been proven to be highly effective in reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. Opioid overdose is a serious issue that affects many individuals, and the availability of naloxone has become increasingly important in saving lives. In Ontario, employers will be required to provide naloxone in the workplace under certain circumstances starting from June 1st, 2023.

It’s important to note that naloxone only reverses overdoses from opioids and not from other substances. It’s crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, which can include a slow or irregular heartbeat, shallow breathing, and unresponsiveness. If someone is suspected of having an opioid overdose, it’s important to act quickly and call 9-1-1 while administering naloxone.

Workplace Medical Corp. is now offering a virtual instructor-led naloxone training seminar, which covers various topics such as the law, different types of opioids, signs and symptoms of an overdose, how naloxone works, rescue breathing and CPR, and what to do when the patient wakes up. The training also includes naloxone awareness training, which is now included in their Standard and Emergency First Aid courses.

Providing access to naloxone in the workplace can be lifesaving, especially if there is a high risk of opioid overdose among workers. It’s important for employers to be aware of the risks and take appropriate action by providing naloxone and ensuring that their workers are trained to respond to an overdose. By doing so, we can work towards reducing the number of opioid-related deaths and help those who are struggling with addiction.

What is Naloxone?

Naloxone (pronounced na-LOX-own) is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Opioids are drugs that are prescribed by a medical practitioner to treat pain. However, opioids are also used recreationally. Some commonly used opioids include:

  • morphine
  • heroin
  • oxycodone
  • fentanyl
  • codeine
  • hydromorphone

While opioids can be an effective part of pain management for medically supervised patients, opioid addiction and overdose are a significant challenge in Ontario. Naloxone only reverses overdoses from opioids.

Requirements in Ontario

Starting June 1st, 2023, employers must provide naloxone in the workplace if certain circumstances described in the Occupational Health and Safety Act apply.

An employer can become aware that there may be a risk of one of their workers having an opioid overdose in their workplace in a variety of ways, for example:

  • A worker opioid overdose may have already occurred in the workplace.
  • A worker who uses opioids may voluntarily disclose this risk to their employer.
  • An employer may observe opioid use among workers in their workplace or discover that opioid use is occurring in their workplace during a workplace investigation.
  • An employer may find discarded opioid paraphernalia, such as used needles, in their workplace.
  • The joint health and safety committee (JHSC), health and safety representative (HSR), a union representative, human resources (HR) staff, and/or someone else in the workplace may bring this risk to the employer’s attention.

If an employer is aware that one of their workers uses opioids as prescribed by a medical practitioner, it is unlikely that this would, alone, create an awareness of the potential risk of a workplace opioid overdose because such use is under medical supervision.

If the employer is not or has not become aware of a risk of one of their workers having an opioid overdose at the workplace, an employer would not need to comply with the OHSA requirements to provide naloxone in the workplace.

The OHSA requirements do not apply to workplaces where the risk of an opioid overdose is created by a non-worker, such as: reacted by a non-worker,:

  • a customer
  • a client
  • a patient
  • other member of the public who may be present in or near the workplace

If there is no risk of a worker opioid overdose, an employer would not have to comply with the OHSA requirements.

How can we help?

Workplace Medical Corp. is now offering a virtual instructor-led Naloxone training seminar. This seminar is approximately 60-90 minutes in length and will include the following topics:

  • The Law (Good Samaritan Act)
  • What is an opioid?
  • Types of fentanyl
  • Signs and symptoms of an overdose
  • Methods of exposure
  • How Naloxone works
  • When and how to act
  • Rescue breathing if needed
  • CPR if needed
  • Recovery position
  • What to do when the patient wakes up
  • Contacting 9-1-1

Along with this, Naloxone awareness training is now included in our Standard and Emergency First Aid courses.