Risk & Safety

Substance Use Recovery & Workplace Safety Program

Will Blake
Substance Use Recovery & Workplace Safety Program
Reading time 4 Mins
Published on Feb 23

With the CDC reporting nearly 100,000 fatal overdoses in the last 12-month period (ending September 2021), the substance use crisis in America is more deadly than it’s ever been. That same data shows Ohio overdose deaths at almost 5,500, an 8% increase in the same period. Experts agree that the ongoing national health crisis of COVID-19 has only exacerbated the already serious public health crisis of addiction.

Some are quick to dismiss addiction as a problem only affecting individuals or families. However, statistics paint a picture of the true impact of substance abuse – especially in the workplace.

According to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), businesses lose an estimated $100 billion each year due to alcohol and drug-related abuse by employees. Lost productivity, injuries, recruiting/training, and increased healthcare costs all contribute to this cost.

The workplace can be a critical touchpoint for workers struggling with or recovering from substance use disorder. It’s important for employers to create environments that proactively address substance misuse, reduce the negative stigma of addiction, and encourage treatment and recovery.

What is the Substance Use Recovery & Workplace Safety Program?

To help Ohio employers more effectively address and manage substance use issues in the workplace, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and county Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) boards partnered to create and launch the Substance Use Recovery & Workplace Safety Program (SURWSP).

The program’s main goals are to lessen the impact of substance use disorders on Ohio’s workforce, help Ohio employers keep employees in recovery at work, assist employers with hiring and managing employees in recovery, and promote a safe and healthy workforce.

Eligible employers in all Ohio counties who enroll in the program can receive reimbursement for:

  • Development and legal review of policies and procedures related to substance use issues.
  • Training for employees aimed at helping to understand substance use and workplace policies.
  • Training for supervisors and managers to equip them to better manage employees in recovery.
  • Drug testing procedures that help support recovery for both prospective and current employees.

Participation also provides employers with access to a free employee wellness incentive program, the BWC’s Better You! Better Ohio! Program.

For more information on reimbursable expenses, including associated reimbursement amounts, you may download the BWC’s chart here.

SURWSP Requirements

To qualify for reimbursement through the SURWSP, employers must be current on all payments due to the BWC, be in an “active” policy status, and have reported actual payroll for the preceding policy year and paid any premium due upon reconciliation of the payroll report.

The program has several documentation requirements associated with the various reimbursable expenses, including invoices, proofs of payment, copies of policies, proofs of attendance for training, etc. A complete list of the SURWSP requirements for each expense can be found here.

Positive Impact of the SURWSP

In a workplace supported recovery program, like the SURWSP, evidence-based policies and procedures are used to reduce multiple risk factors. These include helping to prevent initial substance use, decreasing the risk of substance misuse, and reducing the likelihood of progression to full blown substance use disorder. These programs also provide help in seeking care and assistance to aid in recovery.

Evidence shows that workplace supported programs can play a key role in increasing the likelihood of successful recovery. Workers in recovery often have equal or lower healthcare costs, reduced absenteeism, and lower job turnover. In fact, the National Safety Council’s substance use cost calculator estimates that employers save an average of $8,500 for each employee who recovers from a substance use disorder.

SURWSP Management with Sheakley

The nation’s addiction epidemic affects everyone, including Ohio’s business community. At Sheakley, we recognize that employers can play a pivotal role in addressing substance use disorder in the workplace. Our team of safety experts stand ready to assist in creating and implementing workplace drug and alcohol programs, like the SURWSP and the Drug-Free Safety Program.

We work directly with employers to create policies and procedures that help educate workers on the dangers of substance misuse, train supervisors to better handle substance use issues in the workplace and manage employees in recovery, and reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder. We also provide access to recovery supportive drug testing, employee assistance programs, and other valuable resources for workers seeking treatment.

With the ever-growing public health crisis of addiction showing no signs of slowing down, employer involvement may be more important than ever. Transforming organizational thinking to be less about punishing employees suffering from addiction and more about finding ways to educate and support employees is crucial.

To learn more about our Drug & Alcohol Program Management services, contact us today.

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