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employer later reported how trust, loyalty and morale improved. When discussing Fit for Duty programs at

a recent industry meeting, a leading TAUC contractor shared the following experience aſter an employee was found to have a seri- ous medical condition that was unknown to the employee and his family. It wasn’t until his respirator evaluation that the occupa- tional physician identified the problem and sought immediate medical treatment: “The incident took place on a Friday

and the company sent the employee to the hospital and notified his wife. The following Monday evening, the employer was able to speak to his wife and she ex- plained that her husband was discharged from the hospital earlier that evening. He was advised to remain off work for at least five (5) days and he will follow up with his Primary Care Physician on Thursday, at which time his work status will be reevaluated.” “As we were concluding our conversa-

tion, his wife said she wanted to take a mo- ment to let me know she was overwhelmed with the kindness and compassion dem- onstrated by everyone from his employer today. She and her husband are so apprecia- tive of the concern shown for them during what was a very terrifying day.” In concluding his story, the contractor

reported that the employee is making a full recovery and is back at work. And, the morale and relationship between labor and manage- ment within the company is doing very well.

Conclusion Years ago, when substance abuse pro-

grams were introduced in the construc- tion industry, it became clear how big the labor pool was and that if employers all drew from the same employee pool, those who used the substance abuse programs were more likely to have favorable circum- stances than those who didn’t. Further- more, employers with SAPs were able to bid on certain large jobs when substance

abuse programs were specified by custom- ers. Tey also found certain workers’ compensation benefits by implementing substance abuse programs. Contractors who resisted and steered

clear of substance abuse programs found themselves at a competitive disadvantage with insurance premiums, specific work and in the position of hiring tradespeople who were potentially more at risk. Simi- larly, given some time for the Fit for Duty trend to continue, employers choosing to ignore the benefits of these programs could be finding themselves facing the same type of limiting circumstances. Tere are a variety of items to consider

when puting a Fit for Duty program in place, and therefore it should only be done in a thoughtful and methodic man- ner. But when the goal is to save lives and prevent injuries, programs like Fit for Duty that match an individual’s capabili- ties with the task or job that makes the most sense, and does not put employees in potentially unsafe positions will get the entire industry closer to zero injury jobs. Improving the overall health and safety of the construction industry’s workforce is worth the effort. ❚

Wayne J. Creasap II is the Director of Safety and Health for The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) and the National Main- tenance Agreements Policy Committee, Inc. (NMAPC) where he serves as an industry liaison with numerous regulatory agencies, trade and professional organizations. Creasap oversees two national safety award programs as well as the TAUC Safety and Health Com- mittee and is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Instructor and adjunct faculty at Lakeland Community College. He maintains active memberships with the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), National Safety Council (NSC), Veterans of Safety (VOS) and Society of Ohio Safety Engineers (SOSE) and is a past recipient of the All-Ohio ASSE Safety Professional of the Year award.

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