"Employer Opioid Toolkit" designed to help businesses manage risks of opioid use by workers
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday unveiled a free toolkit to help employers manage the risks of opioid use by their workers.
The “Employer Opioid Toolkit” is available online at ohiochamber.com/opioid-toolkit and through local chambers.
The toolkit includes online courses for employers and workers, along with sample policies and awareness information. Topics include the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, second-chance agreements, employee assistance programs, how to conduct drug tests and react to the results, and how to help the family members of workers.
In 2016, more than 4,000 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses. Most of those deaths involved opioids, including, fentanyl, heroin or prescription painkillers.
Andrew E. Doehrel, president and chief executive of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber developed the toolkit because business leaders are concerned about the impact opioids are having on their companies, their families and communities
“I don’t have to tell anybody in this room that we’ve got a major crisis on our hands in this state when we’re talking about opioids,” Doehrel said.
The chamber developed the toolkit with input from Working Partners, a company that develops drug-free workplace programs, and the Attorney General’s Office. Anthem BlueCross/BlueShield provided financial support.
Although focused on opioids, the information in the toolkit is designed to be relevant to other addictive substances, such as alcohol and marijuana.
Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is a Republican candidate for governor, was on hand for the roll out.
DeWine said opioids are a weight that keeps Ohio’s businesses from growing as they should because companies have trouble finding workers who are willing to take a drug test or can successfully pass one.
“How we deal with this is vitally important,” DeWine said.
Underscoring the financial cost of opioids, Dee Mason, chief executive of Working Partners, said businesses lose $7,000 to $25,000 for every employee who has an untreated substance use disorder.
And employees with pain-medication disorders cost their employers twice as much in turnover and three times as much in health care, she said.
“Employers really understand now that this opioid epidemic is a serious impact to their workplaces,” Mason said.
But workers who are in recovery miss less work than the general workforce, she said, highlighting the financial benefit of second-chance agreements.
Mason said taking action with opioids would protect workplaces from other drugs, noting that cocaine and amphetamine use also are rising.
Dennis P. Saunier, president and chief executive of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the local chamber will put the toolkit on its website at www.cantonchamber.org and send information about the toolkit to members.
“There are jobs that are available which employers have a difficult time, many times, filling because of drug and alcohol issues,” Saunier said.
The toolkit should help employers understand addiction and how to deal with it, and know how to support employees and get them help, he said.
TimkenSteel spokeswoman Carla Wooley wrote in an email that the company looked forward to seeing the toolkit and using it as a resource.
TimkenSteel has 2,500 workers in the area, and over the past year has been giving them information during safety talks and “lunch-and-learn” sessions on local resources and the services available for them and their families through the company’s employee assistance program, Wooley wrote.
The company also has an on-site medical clinic for workers who need help, and through CVS Caremark has put more controls on opioid prescriptions through its health care plans.
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