Health Care

BWC Starts Pilot Program to Address Opioid Impact

COLUMBUS, Ohio ­– The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will launch a program next month to support employers who are willing to hire workers dealing with opioid addiction and 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 workers who are in addiction recovery programs.

Funds will cover reimbursement for pre-employment, random and reasonable suspicion drug testing, training for managers and supervisors and a forum for second-chance employers to share success stories.

“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, in a release. “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.”

The bureau is partnering with county alcohol, drug addiction and mental health boards on the program, which launches in the three counties Oct. 15. The local boards will identify eligible companies and employees.

Montgomery County had the state’s highest overdose death rate in the state in 2016 and 2017, while Ross and Scioto counties are also hard-hit.

According to the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at Ohio State University, opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths costs the state between $6.6 billion and $8.8 billion annually.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.