We’ve written extensively about the effects of the opioid epidemic on construction workers and the many factors – including increased risk for injury and the stigma surrounding asking for help – that make it more prevalent in the construction industry. By understanding the factors driving the opioid crisis in construction, we can begin to take the necessary steps to address it.
While it’s tempting to imagine one single solution, the complex nature of the opioid crisis, the multi-employer construction environment and the individual nature of the people involved mean that isn’t a reality. Fortunately, organizations around the country – both within the construction industry and externally – are taking a multi-pronged approach to this issue. One of those groups is the National Safety Council, which created the free Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit.
The toolkit is built specifically with employers in mind, and includes resources tailored to supervisors, safety professionals, HR professionals and employees. “Employers play a critical role in solving the nation’s opioid crisis,” said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams. “The National Safety Council toolkit provides employers with a framework to effectively address employee opioid misuse and help employees get treatment if they need it.”
The toolkit includes sample policies, fact sheets, presentations, safety talks, posters, videos and other materials. Some of the topics covered include:
- Sample policies for updating or creating drug-free workplace policies
- An overview of how impairment impacts safety on the job
- A guide for supervisors who need to communicate with employees about opioids
- A video explaining how drugs affect the brain
The goal is to help employers build on existing drug-free workplace programs or implement a program that addresses and supports workers struggling with opioid use. Sixty-six percent of American adults with opioid use disorders are in the workforce, demonstrating a clear need for employers to have policies in place to address this issue. While 86 percent of employers surveyed said they believe prescription opioids can impair job performance, only 60 percent of employers said they had a program in place to assist employees with taking prescription opioids safely.
The LHSFNA also provides a variety of materials and assistance to LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, signatory contractors and other LIUNA affiliates related to opioids and substance use disorders. Fund publications such as Answering Your Questions on Opioid Abuse and Addiction and Heroin: Getting Help for Family, Friends and Loved Ones are available in our online Publications Catalogue. For guidance on drug-free workplace policies and programs or questions about how LIUNA members can learn about possible mental health benefits available to them, contact the Fund’s Health Promotion Division at 202-628-5465.
Click here to access the NSC’s free Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit (email address required).