Narcotic management for injured workers

Narcotic management for workers who have been prescribed narcotics (opioids) for non-cancer pain includes increased oversight of how narcotics support treatment goals, including improvement in function, quality of life, and safe and sustained return to work. 

Narcotics strategy

The goal of the Narcotic Strategy is appropriate narcotic (opioid) therapy for injured workers.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) initially only allows prescriptions for short-acting narcotics for a maximum of 12 weeks. This may involve your pharmacist or physician calling the WSIB for authorization.  Long-acting drugs will not be allowed during this period since there are other milder drugs available to workers for pain relief.  After 12 weeks of ongoing narcotic use, WSIB clinical staff will review the worker's case regarding the ongoing use.

The WSIB approach to narcotic therapy is based on two key principles:

  • Authorization of narcotics (opioids) for workers should support treatment goals that include improvement in function, quality of life and safe and sustained return to work.
  • A graduated approach to guide authorization of prescribed narcotics for the management of non-cancer pain that is consistent with best practice.

Our goal is appropriate pain management. When used appropriately, narcotics should improve a worker's function and quality of life, and support a safe and sustained return to work.

The Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain is available to assist in the prescription of opioids (http://nationalpaincentre.mcmaster.ca/opioid/documents.html).

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board supports the recommendations offered in the guideline.