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The Risks of Playing the "Wait and See" Game

Tue, 01/22/2019

Prior to the legalization of cannabis, through the present day, some organizations have made the decision to passively gauge the impact of this social change.  Instead of taking a proactive approach, they have opted to watch and wait.

In the safety industry, this philosophy is tantamount to negligence.  For whatever reason, these organizations have not been able to rise above the deeply entrenched taboos they associate with cannabis use and, because of these taboos, they have failed to interpret this in the reasonable and responsible manner they should be – this change (like any change) represents a workplace hazard.

The nature of the change really shouldn’t matter when it comes to making the decision on whether an organization should respond.  From a risk management perspective, any change that has the potential to impact workplace safety should be assessed and adequately addressed.  Moreover, it is the law to inform your workers of any potential or actual workplace hazard.

It is the only reasonable conclusion to consider cannabis a potential or actual workplace hazard, since its impairing effects can vary and deviate, and because of its particularly prevalent and frequent use in Canada.  Quite astonishingly, Canadians purchased $1.6 billion (with a ‘B’) worth of legal cannabis in 2018.  This was accomplished with only 2 ½ months to work with, as cannabis wasn’t legalized until October 17th, 2018.  Not to mention, the supply didn’t keep up with the demand.  Several times, authorized vendors had to shut their doors because stock shelves were empty.  How much more would’ve been bought had it been available for purchase?  Imagine what total sales will be when the country’s cannabis consumers have an entire calendar year to work with.

Suffice to say, with copious existing users empowered to use and many new cannabis consumers dabbling in the newly legal product, impairment will undoubtedly be an issue in each and every workplace across the country – without exception.

The great news for those who happen to fall into the category of organizations that have been passing around the proverbial hot potato – hoping the axe doesn’t fall while doing nothing to prevent it – is that there are simple to implement resources that will allow you to fill that gaping and unnecessary exposure.  Easy-to-access, simple-to-understand educational programs that empower workers to identify and address potentially hazardous situations stemming from cannabis impairment is your greatest protection against incident as an employer.  Do the right thing by you and your workforce and leave no stone unturned.  Otherwise, you’re choosing to operate in the dark.