Legal weed spooks some safety officials
January 15, 2018
Some Canadian safety officials fear the impending legalization of marijuana could undermine efforts to cut down on workplace accidents and enforce site safety rules. The federal government is pushing ahead with plans to legalize recreational marijuana, with new rules set to take effect July 1.
Home BUILDER found, however, that construction workplace safety officers across Canada were mostly confident they had procedures in place to deal with legalization. Some, such as the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance, said they would increase training and awareness.
“We are not taking any extra steps,” said a spokesman for the Alberta Construction Safety Association.
But Toronto law firm Fasken Martineau’s annual survey of Canadian employers on occupational safety issues suggests that potential problems with legalized weed are not being addressed or fully understood.
“Alcohol and drugs, especially drugs in the workplace, have caused some of the worst disasters and loss of life in Ontario, and across Canada and around the world, and it is still kind of ignored,” firm partner and report author Norm Keith said at a press conference in Toronto a year ago.
According to Keith’s report, The Good, the Bad and the Troubling, 53 per cent of survey respondents suspected that another worker had been under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs, and almost 25 per cent of respondents knew one or more workers who had been under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs while on the job over the previous year. As well, 60 per cent of respondents had managers or supervisors who had not been trained to identify intoxicated workers.
“Seventy-nine per cent of respondents said they don’t have a drug or alcohol policy. None. Zero. Nada,” Keith told Canadian Occupational Health & Safety News. But he said a realistic policy should be in place, regardless.
“Most employers don’t want to use those policies to find out if people are doing drugs or alcohol and fire them. They want them not to do it.”