Hazardous material incident response teams responding to a release or spill and law enforcement officers executing search warrants on opioid processing or distribution sites are some of the first responders who risk coming into contact with fentanyl during the course of their work, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Potential exposure routes of greatest concern include inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion, and percutaneous exposure (e.g., needlestick).
With fentanyl exposure capable of causing a variety of symptoms – including the rapid onset of life-threatening respiratory depression, NIOSH has expanded its informational resources to help workers in various categories reduce the risk of exposure.
Updates to NIOSH’s Fentanyl resources for workers page include:
- Information is now available on preventing occupational exposure to Fentanyl for healthcare personnel in hospital and clinic settings. Like the Fentanyl resources web page for emergency responders, this web page provides information on best work practices in training, personal protective equipment, and other relevant information for preventing occupational exposure to fentanyl and its analogues.
- Two new interim Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) reports are now available related to NIOSH evaluations of potential occupational exposures to opioid drugs during law enforcement and emergency medical service responses.
Who's at risk
NIOSH has identified emergency medical services (EMS) providers, law enforcement officers, evidence handlers, and workers who perform special operations and decontamination as being at heightened risk for fentanyl exposure.