Opioid overdoses and deaths are a public health crisis affecting many working Canadians. Workers in construction are particularly vulnerable to opioid addiction and the harms it can cause. IHSA’s free Call to Action webinar, Opioid Crisis in the Trades: Moving Beyond Awareness to a Plan of Action, can help get your organization thinking about strategic ways to start addressing the opioid crisis in the trades. We also offer a safety talk on Opioids in the trades to help supervisors start the conversation about opioid use with their workers, by explaining the risks and identifying controls.

Raising awareness of the opioid crisis is a good first step, but as with other significant issues surrounding mental health and addictions, you need to go further. Fully integrate the controls needed to prevent risks of opioid-related harms in the workplace, as part of your overall health and safety strategy. Below are 19 key objectives to consider when developing a strategic plan to address problematic opioid misuse and opioid-related harms. You’ll also find a selection of resources to enrich your learning and help you provide more support.


Stakeholder/Champion Learning


Objective 2: Learn about the stigma surrounding opioid use, why it causes harm, and how to reduce it.


Objective 3: Challenge your own stigma towards opioid use disorders and those who experience them.


Objective 5: Understand that substance-use disorders (SUDs) do not only impact substance users. Their families, friends, and loved ones may also face stigma.




Objective 7: Look for ways to integrate risk prevention of opioid-related harms into your current occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS), to promote long-term solution building and monitoring. Consider making COR™ the foundation of your OHSMS, or join the Health and Safety Excellence Program to also get incentives from WSIB.


Objective 8: Audit your current policies and practices.


Objective 9: Assess your readiness to address workplace mental health issues strategically—to avoid playing “topic of the day whack-a-mole”—and consider developing a total worker well-being strategy.


Objective 11: Provide managers/supervisors with tools to communicate about substance misuse, and opioid-related harms and build awareness of the issues among their teams.


Objective 12: Help managers/supervisors to build trust and a culture of physical and psychological safety.


Objective 13: Provide resources for HR/union reps, managers, and others who work directly with and support individuals with substance use disorders.


Learning for all workers


Objective 16: Prepare the workplace to respond to an opioid-overdose emergency.


Objective 17: Promote the value of peer support and how to access it.


Check back often for more resources to support your efforts in addressing the opioid crisis in the trades. For more resources, training, or consultation, contact info@ihsa.ca