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NIOSH requests input on Workplace Supported Recovery Programs

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UPDATE: NIOSH has extended the comment period to July 27.

Washington — NIOSH is seeking comment on an agency plan to conduct research and develop resources on Workplace Supported Recovery Programs, which assist workers and employers affected by the nation’s opioid epidemic and other substance misuse disorders.

WSRPs feature employers using evidence-based approaches to reduce risk factors associated with substance misuse and the progression to a substance use disorder. The programs address workers who take opioids or use/misuse other substances because of a work-related illness or injury. The programs also assist workers in recovery who are staying at work or returning to work.

In 2017, more than 70,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses – more than any year on record, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Two-thirds of the deaths involved opioids.

In a Request for Information published in the Feb. 26 Federal Register, NIOSH states that it is looking for answers to the following questions:

  • What elements, attributes, activities and resources should be involved in a WSRP? Describe why inclusion would benefit a WSRP.
  • How do the elements, attributes, activities and resources that make up WSRPs vary by industry and establishment size?
  • What WSRPs or related approaches are you aware of? Do any of these programs have evaluation or other outcome measures available?
  • Are you aware of any programs that may help employers fund or otherwise develop WSRPs? If so, what are they?
  • What information is available about possible benefits for employers in hiring and/or retaining workers who are in recovery from substance misuse or a substance use disorder?
  • What are the biggest concerns, fears or challenges around WSRPs? If available, provide any data or information to support these concerns.
  • What training related to this effort would be of value to managers/supervisors? To workers?

According to the agency, WSRPs could potentially feature offerings such as:

  • Work-related injury and illness prevention
  • Preventing initiation of misuse
  • Promoting alternatives to opioids for pain relief associated with work-related injury or illness
  • Developing return-to-work plans for workers after medical treatment
  • Providing medication-based or medication-assisted treatment with individual treatment
  • Peer coaching and peer support groups

Comments are due April 27.

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