Columbus, OH – A southern Ohio county received $50,000 this month under a new program by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to help employers hire and retain workers recovering from drug addiction.
Scioto County is the first county to receive funding under BWC’s Opioid Workplace Safety Program that launched in October as a pilot program covering three counties — Montgomery, Ross and Scioto.
“This state has been hit hard by our nation’s opioid crisis, and that goes for our employers, too,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “We’re hopeful this program can lift some of the administrative burden employers face in finding and retaining qualified, drug-free workers to fill vacant jobs. We believe this program will lead to safer, more productive workplaces.”
The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board serving Scioto County will administer the funds to support 10 local employers that have applied so far to participate in the program. The funding will cover the following services for the first quarter of calendar year 2019:
- Reimbursement for 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.
“Working with employees in recovery from a drug addiction requires some special skills, and we anticipate spending roughly $6,000 on training supervisors and managers to be successful on that front,” said Sue Shultz, executive director of the Adams, Lawrence and Scioto ADAMHS Board. “The rest of the funds will support drug screens for around 150 workers.”
BWC is devoting up to $5 million over two years to its pilot program under a partnership with the ADAMHS boards in the participating counties. The boards’ role is to identify eligible employers and employees, disperse funding and measure results. Employers pay for expenses up front and apply to the boards for reimbursement. The program applies to workers recovering from any dangerous substance, not just opioids.
National data show the opioid crisis has lowered the labor force participation rate. In Ohio, opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths cost the state anywhere from $6.6 billion to $8.8 billion annually, according to a 2017 report from the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at The Ohio State University.
Source: Ohio BWC