In 2017, 14 people in Ohio died each day to a drug overdose — and opioids were the main driver of those deaths. Each of those lives was a mother or father, child or friend, an employee … with a relationship back to workplaces. Our businesses are not exempt from the impact of this terrible plight. In fact, the majority of people who are using illicit drugs, including the non-medical use of prescription medications, are employed. More than ever, we are challenged to find a ready, drug-free workforce, and to react to existing employees who are dealing with drug-related issues of their own or someone they care about.
We know our businesses are being impacted because we are hearing directly from you. The opioid epidemic has now turned into a workforce and workplace issue. We hear from employers who can’t find employees who can pass drug tests. We hear from employers whose employees are having to deal with their own or a family member’s addiction. We hear from employers who want to do something, but have no idea where to begin.
In response, upon a recommendation from our board of directors, we convened a task force to explore ways to help Ohio’s employers respond to the opioid problem as it relates to their own workplaces. The task force was made up of representatives from member companies, big and small from all parts of the state. We also consulted with Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office to get resources of who we should be talking to in order to educate ourselves on this issue.
After meeting a half a dozen times and listening to speakers who are on the front line dealing with this epidemic, it was evident that action needed to be taken that would help Ohio’s business community deal with this issue. A key recommendation coming out of that task force was to arm employers with a free toolkit of resources to help prevent and manage the problem.
And so, with support from member companies Working Partners and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield we acted on that recommendation. Two of the elements of the developing toolkit are on-line courses; one for the employer and one for the employee.
- Dose of Reality for EMPLOYERS: A toolkit to Help Mitigate the Risks Associated with Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic and
- Dose of Reality for EMPLOYEES: Being a Safe and Critical Consumer of Prescription (Rx) Drugs.
These are available on our website at http://ohiochamber.com/opioid-toolkit/.
The course for employers is approximately 60 minutes long and has many downloadable resources. It allows the viewer to navigate to the sections they need which include lessons about the impact of the substances, the legal and operational issues an employer must consider, best practice drug-free workplace guidance including how, when and why to drug test and how to handle a situation if an employee confesses or is discovered to be misusing substances. There are also downloaded handouts to use within your company.
The employee course addresses the dangers of misusing prescription drugs and how to be a safe and responsible consumer of the medications. It provides a simple five-step plan with downloadable reference pages employees can use to talk to their medical practitioner and pharmacist about the drugs they are taking, possible conflicts with other drugs, alternatives for specific medicines, how to check whether there is a less expensive or safer generic version of the drug, how to properly dispose of medications, and much more.
The Opioid Toolkit also has numerous resources which are constantly being updated with new ones being added.
We encourage you and your employees to use these resources and to watch for more to come. Also, please share it with other business owners you know. The workplace is a powerful place to both prevent and intervene in the harmful use of substances within the adult population. It is also the ideal environment to arm adults with information and strategies to help keep their children, or those they influence, drug-free. With these tools, operating a comprehensive drug-free workplace program can increase safety, decrease liability, protect an organization’s reputation and profitability and contribute to building an economically thriving and healthy Ohio!