July 9, 2018 / Mark Ames

Standing Together to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

In the battle against the opioid epidemic, you need allies. Manufacturers, industrial hygienists, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police, customs and border agents, postal workers, officemates, your family, friends and neighbors: all these and more are impacted by the scourge that is the opioid epidemic. When these stakeholders work in isolation, they are inefficient. But when we join together, we unlock synergistic strengths, wisdom, and endurance—the ability to achieve our common goals of keeping workers healthy and safe. It is with these things in mind that AIHA has taken action, first by creating an Opioids Working Group, and then by creating the Alliance for Opioid Exposure Protection.

In contrast to the more technically focused Opioids Working Group, the Alliance for Opioid Exposure Protection is much more focused on government relations. Specifically, the Alliance is a diverse group of nonprofit and business stakeholder organizations that share knowledge and develop consensus on public policies that effectively reduce the risks of occupational exposure to opioids for workers in all professions. The Alliance promotes these policies with federal, state, and local policymakers, and serves as a key educational resource for policymakers and stakeholders on the myriad, and often alarming, ways in which people may be exposed to opioids at work. Importantly, the Alliance addresses not only physical exposure risks to opioids but also psychological trauma that may occur to workers, such as first responders, nurses, and doctors, who are repeatedly exposed to stressful situations related to the opioid epidemic.​

Another key difference between the Opioids Working Group and the Alliance is membership. The Working Group is made up of individual members, while the Alliance is made up of people who represent nonprofit organizations or businesses and typically serve in government relations roles.

Together, the Opioids Working Group and the Alliance for Opioid Exposure Protection can be viewed as a continuum of focused action, with the Working Group developing solutions to complex technical issues and the Alliance navigating the vagaries of public policy arenas to implement technical recommendations and providing feedback to the Working Group in a virtuous circle.

If you or your organization is interested in joining either the Alliance for Opioid Exposure Protection or the Opioids Working Group, please contact me via email​ or (703) 848-0730.

Mark Ames

Mark Ames is AIHA’s director of Government Relations. For information on AIHA’s Government Relations activities, please visit the AIHA Government Relations Action Center. See also AIHA’s web page on Safe + Sound Week and Safety Matters.​


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