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"I'll Train My Managers on Cannabis Legalization - That Should be Preparation Enough."

Wed, 07/25/2018

There are several steps an organization must take if they wish to ensure their due diligence when it comes to workplace safety.  The first step is identifying potential and actual hazards.  Nothing can be addressed if it is not first pointed out.  Once you’re aware of the hazards, the second step is to assess the level of risk associated with the hazards.  You need to establish an order of magnitude to understand what hazards present the greatest risk to the well-being of your people and the continuity of your business.  After it is made clear where your greatest risk lies, you must take reasonable action to control those risks – preventing foreseeable negative impacts.

There will be many unique workplace hazards stemming from the cultural shift that is the legalization of off-duty cannabis use.  It is incumbent upon us to be proactive, so we may meet our legal OHS responsibilities to protect our workplace.  So, how do we do that?

Developing or revising your Drug & Alcohol Policy is the natural first step, and many organizations have already instituted their new Policy – with a legal team’s stamp of approval.  However, many stop there.  They think the Policy is the one and only shield needed to fend off the potential pitfalls resulting from this legalization – not so.  Whether you look at it from a strong Safety Culture perspective or a covering of legal liabilities perspective, there is only one approach that will protect your people and the continuity of your business – several layers of protection.  Moreover, layers that strengthen each other.  The Policy is a necessary document and serves as your governance resource on this issue.  However, it can’t serve as your training resource, it can’t adequately prove competence or understanding, and it can’t provide your workforce with their legal OHS “Right to Know” about potential and actual hazards in the workplace.  Having a training or educational resource in place to support the governance of the Policy is integral to the Policy’s success.  Obey the law and ensure you educate your people.

“But, who should receive training on this issue in my workplace?” – you may ask.  Well, the simple answer and the option that ensures your due diligence the most is to train everyone.  However, that may not be feasible or reasonable, given the make-up of your organization.  So, who then?  Just Managers and Supervisors?  After all, they interface the most with workers, so maybe that’s a good approach to maximize the reach of the information.  While it’s a tempting thought, you risk bankrupting your return on investment.  If you train just Managers and Supervisors, and one of your workers has an incident involving cannabis, the training you provided to those who oversee that individual will not exempt your liability.  So, what is the right group to target for training that will provide you with the most value for money?  Take it back to identifying, assessing and reasonably addressing your most at-risk scenarios.  No one knows your work environment like you do.  You know where your greatest risks lie and what segment of your workforce is most probably exposed to their potential impact.  Those are the personnel you want to think of first when implementing training.  Providing education on cannabis and workplace safety to those who conduct the highest risk activities will ensure good corporate social responsibility practices and will cover your liabilities.

Make sure the training program you provide on this subject is easy to disseminate and is backed by safety expertise.