What To Do If You Are Prescribed An Opioid Tool Box Talk

If your health care provider believes a prescription opioid such as hydrocodone, oxycodone or codeine is the most effective way to manage your pain, it’s important to understand that these medications are highly addictive. In 2015, overdose deaths from prescription opioids killed more than 20,000 people in the U.S. alone.

As you should with any new medication, if your health care provider wants to prescribe an opioid, it’s important to ask questions before you get it filled.


  1. Why do I need this medication? Ask if there are non-opioid options you could take instead.
  2. What if I have a history of addiction? Make sure your health care provider knows if you have had issues with drugs or alcohol and if you have a history of smoking. This could change your treatment plan.
  3. How long should I take this medication? Ask for the lowest effective dose in the smallest quantity so you don’t have leftover medication.
  4. How can I reduce the risk of side effects? Take your medication as prescribed and make sure you are aware of potential side effects such as excessive sleepiness or craving more of the medication. Alert your health care provider immediately if you experience them.
  5. What if I am taking other medications? You can reduce your risk for dangerous interactions by making sure your health care provider is aware of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you take.

Write your questions down ahead of time and write down necessary information during your visit. If you think of something else after your appointment is over, don’t be afraid to call back. Most medical offices have staff on hand who can help if your health care provider is not available and you need answers right away. Your pharmacist can also be a valuable resource.

Don’t assume your health care provider will automatically tell you everything you should know about an opioid medication or any other treatment. Not asking questions can have serious consequences on your health and your life.


  1. Where should I keep my opioid medication? If you have children at home, including teenagers, store it where it cannot be seen or reached.
  2. What if I have unused opioid medication? Don’t keep it. Leftover opioids can be found and used by others. Ask your pharmacist how best to dispose of leftover medication – the answer may depend on the specific medication. Further information on safe drug disposal is available from the Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers.
  3. Should I have naloxone in my house? Naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is available over-the-counter in many states and in all of Canada. Your health care provider can also prescribe naloxone if you want it in your home and live in a place where a prescription is required.

Information taken from material originally written by Janet Lubman Rathner of the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America

Hurry-Up Can Hurt Tool Box Talk

There are a couple of frequently used sayings concerning this type of behavior, such as, “Haste Makes Waste” and “The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get.” Another one which is more closely associated with safety on the job is, “Hurrying-Up Can Hurt.”

These types of accidents are easy to identify, but there are others resulting from being in a hurry that we should consider for a moment. For instance:

  • Using the wrong ladder for the job just because it is closer than the one that is the right height.
  • Not wearing safety glasses because the job will only take a second.
  • Not taking time to properly lock-out and tag machinery you want to make repairs on.
  • Carrying a heavy object without first planning a safe route.
  • Leaving water or oil on the floor for someone else to wipe up—probably with the seat of their pants.

Sometime, think back to an incident when you nearly got hurt. When you review the circumstances of the near-miss, there is a good chance that hurrying was part of your difficulty. If you took a shortcut, you probably realize, as most of us do sooner or later, the shortcut really didn’t save any time and was not worth the risk involved.

However, it should be pointed out that while hurrying unnecessarily is frowned upon, faster ways of doing things may be beneficial at times. If you think that there is a better way of doing a certain job, by all means bring it to the attention of your Supervisor. But do not proceed to use the new method or make any changes without first getting them approved.

One of the safest means of speeding up operations is through experience. As we become more familiar with our jobs, our efficiency and speed increase. But this is taken into consideration in planning jobs and how they should be handled; and then, of course, we all reach a point where increased speed through experience becomes negligible, and the danger of not remaining alert on the job grows.

Obviously, accidents cost money. So if you think that meeting the cost of living is rough now, just imagine what it would be like if you had to face expenses without a full paycheck because of a work injury. So, both physically and financially, hurrying can hurt.


Substance Abuse Tool Box Talk 3

We discussed in Toolbox Talk 2 the initial steps a person can take to get help from the hold of alcohol and drug abuse. Coming forward prior to being declared ineligible would be a great first step, and hopefully avoid an unnecessary physical and emotional injury to the abuser, co-workers, or family members. In this third toolbox talk, we will talk about addiction, the road to recovery, and the return-to-work process. We will also provide a history on the evolution of the 12-Step Programs and how that history provides a link
to the recovery process.

A person who has been diagnosed with an addiction and successfully completed rehabilitation will be in recovery for life. Folks in recovery live day to day striving to remain sober. Recovery requires an individual to change their lifestyle and friends. Recovery requires affirmation and peer group assistance. Those in recovery need the help of others in recovery as well as assist others in recovery to remain sober. As a coworker or Supervisor, understanding the recovery process is important.

You may need to encourage and or arrange schedules so that a fellow worker can find the attention they need to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (or other support groups). To understand addiction, let’s examine the Progression and Recovery of the Alcoholic.

Four stages of one model, the Jellinek Curve are: the beginning of the disease, the bottoming out, rehabilitation, and the recovery. Addiction starts with the building up of tolerance of a drug. Basically, that means that the individual needs more of a drug or to take it more often to feel “normal.” As the progression continues, behaviors begin to change or surface – social interactions, financial situations, and workplace behaviors begin to manifest possible problems.

The Crucial Phase begins with occasionally using a substance for relief to building up a tolerance (need more for the same affect) to eventually losing interest in other things. To recognize signs or observe behaviors that identify possible problems at this early stage increases the opportunity for a successful intervention. As the disease model progresses, the individual becomes dependent. The dependent person values taking a drug or consuming alcohol over social activities and/or eating and/or taking care of oneself.

Through the Chronic Phase, physical, emotional, and psychological behaviors become dysfunctional. The dependent individual is out of control – the substance is controlling him/her. The first step to Rehabilitation often requires a significant event or happening. The individual must have an honest desire to get help. Through the process, the individual learns about the disease and begins to understand the process. There iscomplete abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The individual meets people who are “normal” and no longer abuse. Understanding the value of sobriety begins and the individual is in recovery. Recovery is a “forever and ever” process. Often, it is the first time the individual feels normal and begins to appreciate every part of their life. They have experienced a rebirth of life and ideals. Everything about their life begins to improve. Through the recovery process, individuals continue to rely on support groups. They need to affirm to themselves daily that they are on the right path. It will truly be one day at a time for the rest of their lives.

Individuals who have lost eligibility in CISAP must seek professional assistance in order to return to work. As mentioned in Toolbox Talk #2, the participant will need to meet with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). The SAP will assign a treatment plan. Treatment plans vary and in most cases are completed via outpatient services, and may include mandatory attendance at AA or NA meetings. Once a treatment plan is completed or the SAP has designated an individual fit for duty, a return to duty test is required. The individual participant can arrange a drug test with Mobile Medical Corporation (MMC) and will be charged $50 for the test. MMC works with the individual and their union to assist in the return-to-work process.

Individuals who have experienced addiction and have successfully managed their lives in recovery are good workers. They have placed a high value on their sobriety and now understand responsibilities completely. They are energized by positive reinforcement and the ability to work encourages them through recovery. They often times will become your most valuable worker or co-worker. They do not ask for favors – just the opportunity to experience life completely as a sober person.

If You Have More Questions, Contact:
■ Your Designated Employee Representative
■ Company Supervisors

Women in Construction Week 2018

Last week we celebated #WICWeek2018, we thank Summa Health who graciously hosted the Women in Construction Week kickoff at the Summa West Tower project site. The Donley’s Shook project team includes nine women. The NAWIC , Summa, and other construction industry segments gathered together while displaying the NAWIC Banner and women empowerment mission to snap the pictures below. We tip our hard hats to all women in the industry – on and off site – Thank you for all that you do.

Four Seconds to Safety

Perhaps the best tool to come along in industrial construction (at least as far as safety is concerned) is the Field Level Risk Assessment or Job Hazard Analysis. Whatever you call it, this is a tool that makes everyone stop and think about the different risks associated with the task. Crews normally gather and write out the JHA or FLRA before doing a job. This exercise greatly reduced the number and severity of injuries where this was done.

The same principle of these risk assessments can be done in our shops. Simply take a four-second “reset”. Take four seconds before starting some new familiar task. This act of refocusing has been shown to reduce the probability of an injury incident by more than 90% versus not taking the four seconds. How hard is that? You may have done the task you are about to perform thousands of times before. In your mind, you know that you could do it with your eyes closed. It is usually not the task itself but some small thing you did not anticipate that causes the incident. You did not notice the debris in front of the tool you were going to pick up. You did not notice somebody placed something on the part you were about to pick up. You did not realize how heavy a piece is that you were asked to help carry.

It is easy to imagine the different activities we do every day and how this applies. For example, getting in a forklift and having a quick look around. We change our thinking from where we are going to focusing on the area, road conditions, other vehicles and so on. This is the “reset” we are talking about.

Believe it or not, four seconds is all it takes. Get in this habit of taking four seconds and you significantly reduce your chance of injury. If you get into the habit of taking chances or simply cruising from job to job, you will eventually be injured.

This four second reset was first instituted on CN Rail. This was part of a strategy to reduce the number of very serious incidents they were having including many amputation injuries. What they found was that their employee knew the rule or procedure to do the job without getting injured but were simply not focused. Even well rested employees were getting caught up in the routine of the day and found themselves daydreaming or thinking about other things. Losing an arm or leg is a very rude awakening.

We highly recommend this four second “reset” as an excellent way to refocus on the job at hand. And we believe that this is one very effective method to prevent injury on and off the job.