Safety Experts Urge Employers to Act Now Against Opioid Overdose to Save Lives

Prepare for overdose emergencies at work by stocking naloxone and providing proper training.

Workplace first aid kits should now contain naloxone to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose, says the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). ISEA publishes the ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2021 standard — which provides minimum performance specifications for occupational first aid kits and the supplies they contain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of naloxone as an OTC drug gives workplaces access to a lifesaving tool to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths. Workplaces can help prevent overdose deaths by stocking lifesaving medication on site and equipping employees with proper overdose response training to help save a life.

This guidance does not appear in the current ANSI/ISEA Z308.1 standard because it was revised before the FDA approved naloxone. While a new update to ANSI/ISEA Z308.1 is planned for 2025, ISEA urges workplaces to add naloxone to their first aid kits now rather than wait for new guidelines.

“We all have a role to play in addressing the opioid epidemic, including employers,” said Cam Mackey, president & CEO of ISEA. “Providing access to naloxone and appropriate training at work can protect workers and possibly save someone’s life. We encourage all employers to make this change to their first aid kits now.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 525 people died from overdoses at work in 2022[1].

In a March 2024 statement, the White House challenged leaders to increase training and access to opioid overdose reversal medications, keeping the medications in first aid kits, and distributing the medications to employees and customers so they might save a life at home, work, or in their communities.[2]

The opioid epidemic has a significant impact on the labor market. An estimated 12.6% of the U.S. workforce receives an opioid prescription each year[3], and 75% of employers surveyed by the National Safety Council (NSC) report that they have been directly affected by opioids.[4] With opioid deaths surging, there’s no time to wait before adopting programs to reduce opioid tragedies in the workplace.

Some companies and communities are already combatting opioid overdoses by making naloxone available and committing to more training. For example, the Chicago Department of Aviation  added Narcan to 96 automated external defibrillator (AED) cabinets at O’Hare International Airport and 32 at Midway International Airport.[5] Also, state health officials in California have pushed to expand access to the medication, distributing millions of kits for free.[6]

In opioid overdose emergencies, bystanders are often the first to witness or be in the presence of the person experiencing an overdose.[7] Individuals should not be reluctant to come to the aid of others out of fear of potential litigation. According to NSC, 49 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that provide legal protection to individuals who administer naloxone in good faith to someone experiencing an opioid overdose[8].

Don’t wait to take action in the opioid epidemic response. Prepare now for overdose emergencies by stocking naloxone on site and equipping employees with proper overdose response training and resources. For more information about ISEA, visit  

About ISEA
The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) is the trade association for technologies that keep workers safe. Its member companies, united in the goal of protecting the health and safety of workers worldwide, are global leaders in the design, manufacture, testing, and distribution of personal protective and safety equipment, which protects more than 125 million workers across the U.S. Since 1933, ISEA has been a recognized leader in the development of ANSI-accredited safety equipment standards, in the United States and around the world. ISEA works with Congress and government agencies to consult with policymakers whose decisions affect the industry.

Nationwide, the safety equipment industry supports 345,001 total jobs and generates more than $71.6 billion in economic activity. In 2020, the safety equipment industry paid $5 billion in federal taxes and nearly $4 billion in state taxes, for a total tax generation of $9 billion. For more information, visit












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