How to Deal with the Legalization of Cannabis in the Workplace.

If you're like many other Canadian employers looking for ways to ensure workplace safety with the legalization of cannabis, this blog is for you. 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety released a document last June that provides suggestions and guidelines for businesses to follow once legalization occurs. We curated some of the most valuable aspects of the document and will highlight them for you in this post. 

  1. Canadian employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment and take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace. Due diligence is demonstrated by the employer’s actions before an event occurs, not after.
  2. To establish due diligence, an employer will have written occupational health and safety policies in place to establish any hazards around the workplace. The employer must then inform all employees about potential hazards and take the necessary actions to correct them.
  3. In the case of cannabis use and the workplace, the employer should consider workplace policies and programs as they may relate to impairment from any source such as fatigue, life stresses, alcohol, medications (used legally or illegally), cannabis (recreational or therapeutic), or any other substance.

It is important to tailor the policy to meet the specific needs of the workplace. Elements of the policy could include:

  1. that arrangements have been made for employee education (e.g., a general awareness regarding disability due to substance dependence)
  2. statement regarding if either medical/therapeutic or non-medical substances are allowed on the premises, or under what situations they would be allowed
  3. a mechanism for employees’ to confidentially report when they have been prescribed a medication that may cause impairment
  4. statement of the employee’s rights to confidentiality
  5. statement of who is covered by the policy and/or program
  6. definition of what the employer considers to be impairment
  7. definition of substance use
  8. statement of the purpose and objectives of the program
  9. that arrangements have been made for educating and training employees, supervisors, and others in identifying impaired behaviour and what steps will be taken
  10. provisions for assisting those with disability due to substance dependence
  11. processes for accommodation, and return to work/remain at work planning
  12. if applicable, statement of under what circumstances substance testing will be conducted, as well as the criteria for testing and interpretation of test results
  13. provision for a hierarchy of disciplinary actions

Having policies in place to prepare your company for the legalization of cannabis is important. We will be posting more from the document in our next post, but we hope you find this helpful in regards to policies and procedures. 

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