The consequences of substance misuse and addiction can be catastrophic in the workplace. Impairment can result in workplace incidents that lead to injuries, fatalities, quality defects leading to rework, and lost productivity through fatigue, tardiness, absenteeism, and presenteeism.
In an industry that exists to build and create, the addiction crisis has become a destructive force in construction (see “Substance Use in Construction” on page 22). However, the recovery friendly workplace movement offers new hope — and a new blueprint — for providing construction workers in recovery with the support they need to stay healthy.
The Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative
In 2018, New Hampshire launched its Recovery Friendly Workplace (RFW) initiative (www.recoveryfriendlyworkplace.com) to address the statewide impacts associated with substance use disorders (SUDs). Administered by Granite United Way in partnership with New Hampshire, this initiative empowers businesses to create work environments that are supportive of those in or seeking recovery, in addition to those who may have a loved one with SUD.
The RFW initiative was launched in response to New Hampshire’s increasing overdose rates and its effects on local workforces, including construction companies. The initiative was designed to give employers the tools, resources, and trainings they need to encourage the success of their employees in recovery.
RFW Program Director Samantha Lewandowski explains the innovative public health approach. “Work is where we reach people, and the RFW model gives us an opportunity to make recovery resources available at really what is an unprecedented scale. This is particularly important for sectors like construction where the hours can be long and tiring, and workers may not have the time, energy, or nuanced information needed to access support outside the workplace.”