Home > Health & Safety Compliance Blog > Marijuana in the Workplace and its Potential Toll on Contractor Safety

Since marijuana is now more widely available than ever before, contractors should understand its potential impact on their operations, especially since worksites with impaired workers possess severe safety challenges.

Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, cannabis is currently a Schedule II drug in Canada. This means that while cannabis has a high potential for abuse, it provides valid medical benefits for some. Additionally, under the newly passed Cannabis Act, in late October 2018, the possession and sale of marijuana under certain restrictions will become legal throughout Canada.

Contractor Safety

Here are some tips on how to address marijuana use in the workplace:

Responding to an Impaired Worker

Workers who have used marijuana prior to arriving at the jobsite may exhibit these symptoms:

  • The employee cannot concentrate on the task at hand or is unable to think clearly.
  • The employee appears drowsy, dizzy, confused, or disoriented.
  • The employee exhibits slowed reaction times or lack of coordination.

For the sake of contractor safety, employers who suspect one of their workers is impaired by marijuana have a duty to respond to the situation.

Employers should approach the worker and mention they are worried about the worker’s safety and the safety of those around them. For example, an employer might want to say something like this: “I noticed you are not following proper safety practices today. Can you help me understand what’s going on?” Employers should remember that their role is to focus on restoring safe practices instead of looking for a cause.

Actions to Take

Employers who determine one of their workers could be under the influence of marijuana at work should file an incident report that covers the following:

  • What matters were discussed
  • The identification of unsafe practices
  • Any actions taken to rectify the situation
  • Any agreements made with the employee
  • Recommendations made to the employee

As part of their contractor safety plan, employers should also inform their workers of the dangers of impairment while on the job to minimize instances of employees coming to work impaired.

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