Workforce Development Hacks for SSPs


Harm reduction organizations that hire employees of any kind face the same issues as other employers. Some of the biggest concerns regarding having any kind of employees at an SSP include:

  • Training – As with SSP volunteers, the minimum training that any frontline SSP worker needs includes:
    • Universal Precautions and site safety
    • De-escalation
    • Program policies and procedures
    • Participant privacy and confidentiality

    Basic training for SSP workers should also include:

    • Harm Reduction
    • Outreach
    • Behavior Change Models
    • Cultural Competency for SSP Participants
    • Safer Drug Use
    • Safer Sex Work
    • Trauma
  • Supporting – In addition to training, it’s equally important for employers to support employee’s sustainability and growth through continuing education and creating a supportive workplace that encourages employees personal and professional growth.
  • Taxation, Identity, and Privacy – Obviously it is essential for employers to have accurate information about employees and pay appropriate taxes. It is equally essential, and the law, that employers follow employee privacy laws and regulations regarding this information.
  • Discrimination and Harassment – SSPs, like every employer, are barred from discrimination, creating a hostile workplace, and harassment.
  • Protected Leave – All employees are entitled to protected leave including family leave and sick time.
  • Compensation and Overtime – SSPs should pay the highest possible wages and benefits they can afford. SSP hourly employees are subject to overtime laws.
  • Safety – SSPs are subject to federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards with regard to bio-waste handling.
  • State and Local Law – States and localities impose other employee laws and regulations; please check with your state’s employee development department and city government for more information.

More Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
Suggest a Resource


The hacks on this site are shared with you under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence. This allows you (with attribution) to adapt content for your own use, although we do ask you to then also allow others to have equal access to anything you develop. More details of this licence can be found on the Creative Commons website.


We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.

Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation. 

Harm Reduction Hacks site design and implimentation by Nigel Brunsdon

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