Overdosing on the Job: Opioid Crisis Spills Into the Workplace

At Philip Tulkoff’s food-processing plant in Baltimore, machines grind tough horseradish roots into puree. “If you put your arm in the wrong place,” the owner says, “and you’re not paying attention, it’s going to pull you in.” It’s not a good place to be intoxicated.

Drug abuse in the workforce is a growing challenge for American business. While economists have paid more attention to the opioid epidemic’s role in keeping people out of work, about two-thirds of those who report misusing pain-relievers are on the payroll.

In the factory or office, such employees can be a drag on productivity, one of the U.S. economy’s sore spots. In the worst case, they can endanger themselves and their colleagues.

That’s why Tulkoff practices zero-tolerance. One randomly chosen employee gets tested every month, “and we’re gonna move it to two.” The costs mount up: He has to hire a third-party company to select

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