“At-risk” work sites are required to have naloxone kits starting today

Jun 1, 2023 | News

As of June 1, “at-risk” work sites must have naloxone kits on hand to reduce opioid overdose effects, according to a press release from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

The new requirement is part of Ontario’s Workplace Naloxone Program, which distributes free nasal spray naloxone kits to employers if they determine their work site may be “at risk.”

According to the release, 30 per cent of workers who died from opioid-related causes in 2020 were in the construction industry.

Andrew Pariser is the Vice President of The Residential Construction Council of Ontario, which is a leading association for residential builders.

He advised builders in a press release to have naloxone kits on hand to ensure the health and safety of construction workers.

Pariser said that although not every construction site is at risk of an overdose, the new requirement should be enforced on all worker sites, regardless of the risk.

“We don’t care if your sites are “at risk” or not,” Pariser said. “Go get your kit and put it on site and make sure your people are trained because it’s easy. It’s a best practice and you can save people’s lives.”

He also said opioid overdoses increased since 2019 and were high during the pandemic.

“People were obviously looking for ways to cope,” he said.

The naloxone kits are only mandatory after employers have completed an assessment, according to the press release.

Pariser said that opioid usage on construction sites is not new and is aware that this rule could have been enforced earlier.

“I think everybody would have liked to see us do more earlier. Unfortunately, you know, we can’t change the past,” he said.

Pariser said he hopes that this will spark ongoing change in the construction industry.

“The only thing we can commit to is continuing to push for mental health supports, for opioid supports and for naloxone kits,” Pariser said.

In a news release this morning, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, said Ontario is in the middle of an opioid epidemic.

“From worksites to nightclubs, requiring naloxone kits in at-risk businesses will help us increase awareness for opioid addiction, reduce the stigma, and save lives,” he said.

Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said in the news release that the new policy plans to make Ontario a safer place to work.

“Everyone’s life has meaning, and naloxone gives people the second chance they deserve,” he said.