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Safety Culture: Cannabis & Workplace Safety FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Safety Culture?
A:
A culture is made up of Beliefs, Attitudes and Practices – which are then displayed in Behaviours. The core belief in Safety Culture is that everyone wants to go to work, do their job well and get home safe.

Q: What is the IRS?
A:
The Internal Responsibility System (IRS) requires that everyone in the workplace (Employees and Employers) is responsible for their own safety, and that of others.

Q: What is Cannabis?
A:
Cannabis is a plant. It can be used for medical and / or recreational purposes, and contains hundreds of chemicals, some of which can produce mind-altering effects.

Q: What is Marijuana?
A:
Marijuana is made from the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant.

Q: What is THC?
A:
THC is a chemical believed to be mainly responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis.

Q: What is the effect of cannabis on the brain and body?
A:
Cannabis use can impact your motor skills, concentration, alertness and awareness, learning and memory, problem-solving ability, anxiety, behaviour, reaction time and more. While cannabis can make you feel relaxed and happy, you could experience unpleasant or unwanted side-effects on your brain and body.

Q: Does THC remain in a person's body after use, the same as alcohol?
A:
THC can be detected in the body for weeks after consumption, while the presence of alcohol tends to last for a few days.

Q: What is the approach for identifying and addressing safety hazards?
A:
Identifying and addressing workplace safety hazards includes, in order: identifying the types and locations of activities, checking if any activity could cause harm, reducing risks by removing hazards, verifying best practices are being followed, and, evaluating what could be done better.

Q: What are the testing methods for measuring cannabis-induced impairment?
A:
Measuring impairment is difficult. Reliable and accurate testing methods continue to be studied. Much about the effects of cannabis are being researched, including its potential impact on performance in the workplace, and measurement of THC levels.

Q: Does cannabis affect everyone the same way?
A:
The effects of cannabis may vary between users.

Q: What should you do if you suspect someone may be impaired at work?
A:
Refer to your company’s workplace safety policies to determine who to report to, if you feel yourself or anyone else is at risk.

Q: What are workplace responsibilities related to cannabis use?
A:
When it comes to cannabis, a good approach to understanding workplace responsibilities is to focus on Policy, Obligation and Training (P.O.T.).

Q: How can Employers continue to protect their workplaces upon legalization of recreational cannabis?
A:
Employers have the right to enforce a zero-tolerance policy, intended to prevent impairment in the workplace that could impact safety. Policies should address the expectation of behaviours for off-duty conduct, to ensure workers are fit for duty and able to perform their jobs safely.

Q: What are an Employer's accommodation requirements?
A: The Human Rights Act obligates Employers to accommodate employees with disabilities. Without a medical authorization, there is no legal requirement for accommodation.

Q: Is addiction a disability?
A:
Yes. Addiction is a disability and must be addressed in your policies.

Q: What is a good first step in the accommodation process?
A:
A key initial step is to assess job duties and identify safety-sensitive positions in your organization. These are typically higher-risk positions. Everyone should cooperate in the accommodation process.

Q: What might accommodation look like?
A:
Employee accommodation could include moving a worker out of a high-risk environment, providing more frequent breaks, implementing alternative scheduling or altering duties.

Q: Does accommodation have limits?
A:
Yes. A prescription or authorization for any drug, including medical marijuana, does not entitle an employee to be unsafe at work, to unexcused absences or lateness, or to smoke in the workplace. If the use of medical marijuana poses a safety risk, an Employer has the right to modify an employee’s schedule, or even give a leave of absence. If a person is sent home due to suspected impairment, do not let them drive.

Q: Who should be educated on marijuana-related workplace policies?
A:
Managers, Supervisors and workers should all be educated on marijuana-related workplace policies, and how to recognize potential impairment, including methods to report concerns safely and confidentially.

Q: What are some common signs of potential impairment?
A:
Signs of cannabis use can include bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, slurred speech, loss of coordination, fatigue, paranoia and anxiety.

Q: Do employees have responsibilities related to workplace policies?
A:
Yes. Employees must be aware of their roles and responsibilities under fitness for duty and drug & alcohol policies, and follow the Internal Responsibility System (IRS), including self-disclosure and reporting fellow workers where impairment is reasonably suspected.

Q: What are some best practices regarding marijuana and workplace safety?
A:
Best practices surrounding awareness, policies, roles, reporting and disciplinary measures are all pivotal to marijuana and workplace safety. Above all else, staying informed and continually improving are keys to ensuring everyone works safe and stays safe.