Ohio BWC Program Supports Hiring of Workers in Addiction Recovery

The Opioid Workplace Safety Program will provide up to $5 million over two years to help employers in Montgomery, Ross, and Scioto counties hire, manage, and retain employees in recovery from addiction.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation will launch a pilot program in October to support employers who hire employees working to overcome an addiction to opioids and other dangerous substances. The Opioid Workplace Safety Program will provide up to $5 million over two years to help employers in Montgomery, Ross, and Scioto counties hire, manage, and retain employees in recovery from addiction.

Montgomery County had 521 accidental overdose deaths in 2017, according to preliminary data from the Ohio Department of Health, making it the state's highest overdose death rate for the second year in a row. Ross and Scioto counties are usually also among those with highest overdose death rates.

"Many employers are struggling to fill jobs because otherwise qualified applicants have a history of substance abuse or addiction," said Dr. Terry Welsh, BWC's chief medical officer. "We also know that folks in recovery have a better chance staying sober if they have a job. What we want to do is give employers resources to help them better manage these workers so everyone wins — businesses boost productivity without compromising safety, and workers have a greater chance of a successful recovery."

BWC will partner with county Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Boards to identify eligible employers and workers, distribute funding, and measure results.

BWC will allot a lump sum to each ADAMH board on a quarterly basis to reimburse employers for the following expenses:

  • Pre-employment, random and reasonable suspicion drug testing;
  • Training for managers/supervisors to help them better manage a workforce that includes individuals in recovery
  • A forum/venue for "second-chance" employers to share success stories that will encourage others to hire workers in recovery

The details of the Opioid Workplace Safety Program are still in development and are likely to change. The pilot program is scheduled to launch Oct. 15.

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