The government of Canada is set to legalize recreational marijuana across the country on October 17, 2018.
Employers will need to consider how they manage marijuana in the workplace from a policy standpoint as well as a health and safety standpoint.
Health & safety for cannabis industry workers:
With marijuana now being legal to consume recreationally, it is also opening the floodgates for marijuana production.
Kelly Fernandes highlighted the health and safety challenges and opportunities in her article in OHS Canada called “Safety Lessons for Cannabis Growers.”
Fernandes identifies cannabis producers operating mostly in unchartered territory as one of the unique challenges.
“Few other industries have encountered issues such as skin reaction to cannabis oil, sensitization to cannabis dust and mould, and extended exposure to ultraviolet light.”
Canadian provinces outline the minimum health and safety standards to which an employer must adhere. Fernandes encourages marijuana producers to aim higher because workplaces are safer and more productive when organizations invest in safety.
Protecting workers in the cannabis industry:
Identify the hazards present in your workplace. This includes noise, indoor air quality, chemical exposure, working at heights, machine safety and ergonomics.
Fernandes points out that agricultural operations tend to have chemicals around. When handling and storing chemical consider the following:
- the chemical’s properties
- the risk it poses, and
- how the chemical is being stored
Our team of safety specialists can help you identify hazards in your workplace and implement solutions that protect staff and customers.
We can provide solutions for cannabis producers in the following areas.
- Chemical and hazardous material storage
- Confined space
- Fall protection
- Fire protection systems
- Gas detection
- Industrial hygiene
- Occupational health
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Respiratory protection
We also service the equipment we sell and provide training on new equipment to make sure your team is ready and confident to get to work.
Creating recreational marijuana policies:
With this law change, many employers are creating policies around the use of recreational cannabis.
For instance, WestJet and Air Canada have released policy updates forbidding staff in safety-critical areas from consuming marijuana while on- and off-duty.
“Employees working in safety-critical areas at the company, including flight operations and aircraft maintenance, will be prohibited from using cannabis and cannabis products at all times, both on-duty and off-duty,” the statement reads.
The Department of National Defence has created a policy that prohibits members from consuming marijuana eight hours before duty.
Most employers will need to create a basic outline for non-medical marijuana in the workplace similar to the rules outlined for the use of alcohol. An employer may prohibit the use of marijuana at work or coming to work impaired. The policy should also outline enforcement through a progressive discipline policy.
Your human resource department may also feel the need for marijuana health and safety training which can be done through online courses or in-person sessions.
Online courses for marijuana in the workplace:
- Cannabis & Workplace Safety
- Reasonable Suspicion Testing: What Supervisors Need to Know
- Cannabis & the Workplace: Employer Overview/Rights and Responsibilities
- Cannabis & the Workplace: Employee Overview/Rights and Responsibilities
In-person training for marijuana in the workplace:
The Fatal Vision® marijuana program kit is an interactive experience that emphasizes the impact of the cognitive impairments associated with using recreational marijuana.
This training demonstrates the dangers associated with consuming marijuana in a workplace setting. It also highlights the signs coworkers, supervisors and employers can look out for to spot if someone is working while impaired.
You’re not alone:
While there is a lot for companies to do in preparation for recreational marijuana, you’re not alone.
You need to be proactive in implementing policies, providing training and finding health and safety solutions to keep your staff safe, and we can help.
Levitt-Safety is Canada’s leading provider of health, environmental and fire safety solutions and we are ready to help!
Fill out the form to chat with a member of our team about the products that would be best for your workplace.