Funds to Help Workers Recovering from Drug Addiction Coming to Ross County

(Columbus) -- Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud announced today that Ross County has been awarded more than $26,000 under a new program by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) to help employers hire and retain workers recovering from drug addiction.

BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program is providing $26,465 to the Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board to support around a dozen local employers participating 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.

Launched in October, BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program is currently a $5 million, two-year pilot program covering three counties - Montgomery, Ross and Scioto. But in his two-year budget proposal for BWC, Gov. DeWine is calling for $15 million in funding to expand the program to other parts of the state.

“More and more business owners are willing to give employees in recovery a chance, and this program gives employers tools and resources they need to help their employees succeed,” said Gov. DeWine. “My goal is to expand this program in order to reduce workplace risks allowing employees and employers to thrive.”

“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. In addition, we believe this program will lead to safer, more productive workplaces.”

The Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program calls for county ADAMH boards 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.

“Working with employees in recovery from a drug addiction requires some special skills, so a portion of these funds will support training supervisors and managers to be successful on that front,” said Penny Dehner, executive director of the Paint Valley ADAMH Board. “Remaining funds will support drug screens for around 50 workers.”

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.

For more information, contact BWC at BWCSURWSP@bwc.state.oh.us or the ADAMHS boards in the following counties:

Established in 1912, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio and serves 242,000 public and private employers. With 1,800 employees and assets of approximately $27 billion, BWC is the largest state-run insurance system in the United States.

Their mission is to protect Ohio's workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses at fair rates. For more, visit www.bwc.ohio.gov.

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