Michael Felsen

Michael Felsen recently retired as regional solicitor of labor, following a 39-year career with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor in Boston. He currently consults on worker protection strategies with governmental and nonprofit organizations.

Recent Articles

How Deregulation Led to the Opioid Epidemic

In 2001, Congress rescinded the ergonomics standard that was designed to stem a range of common disabling workplace injuries. Absent regulation, injuries increased and large numbers of people were treated with addictive pain medications.

The opioid abuse epidemic is one of the worst public-health crises in American history. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1999 and 2017, almost 400,000 people died in the U.S. from an overdose of either prescription or illicit opioids. In 2017 alone, opioids, more than one-third involving prescriptions, killed more than 47,000 individuals. And today, on average 130 people die each day from opioid overdoses. The root cause of most cases of opioid addiction, particularly prescription-initiated addiction, is pain, a devastating but sometimes overlooked symptom. As a recent American Industrial Hygiene Association paper argues , “the opioid crisis should be seen primarily as a pain crisis, much of which is related to work.” Addressing that crisis precipitated another: treatment regimes that relied heavily on opioids. Today there’s little awareness that almost two decades ago, conservative members of Congress, in a burst of anti-...