Impairment continues to be a challenge that employers across Ontario must manage. With the marijuana legislation that took effect on October 17th, employers are once again reminded of the importance of managing impairment in the workplace.
“If you haven’t already, consider the implications to workplace safety and take preventive steps,” advises Larry Masotti, WSPS’ Director, Strategic Relationships.
Here’s why: marijuana affects our coordination, reaction time, decision-making, and ability to judge distances. These effects can linger, creating significant hazards for users and people around them (read more about the effects: 4 things employers need to know about marijuana).
Once recreational marijuana is legalized, expect its use to grow, along with the workplace hazards. Testing results in the United States show a striking increase in the number of workers who tested positive in states that have legalized recreational use.*
Larry encourages employers to take the following four steps:
Inform yourself. Start with these three white papers:
Marijuana in the Workplace: Conversations About the Impact on Employers and Employees (CEO Health & Safety Leadership Network)
Workplace Strategies: Risk of Impairment from Cannabis (CCOHS)
A Risk-Management Approach To Managing Drugs And Alcohol In The Workplace (Workplace Medical Corporation).
Review your existing drug and alcohol policy and procedures. Does it include the concepts of impairment or being under the influence? This approach takes into account all sources of impairment. Does your policy include the organization’s position on using, possessing or being under the influence of substances while at work?
Assess potential hazards. Understand how impairment could pose hazards, and what symptoms of impairment look like (e.g., inability to concentrate, disorientation and confusion, slow reaction times, and lack of coordination). Incorporate this understanding into your process for identifying, evaluating and controlling hazards. Check out WSPS’ hazard assessment resources, including a downloadable assessment tool.
Manage hazards, especially those particular to recreational marijuana. For instance, inform employees of your drug and alcohol policy and procedures, as well as support systems, such as an EAP program or community resources. Post reminders, such as signage and posters that speak to impairment and zero tolerance. During inspections, be mindful of paraphernalia, such as vapourizers. Is the smell of cannabis present on people? Build on your existing model for controlling hazards instead of starting from scratch.