- March 3, 2017
- Posted by: Sage Shield Safety Consultants
- Category: Global Safety News
A set of guiding principles for safety in the cannabis workplace has been developed by Colorado health officials. It’s the first time that Colorado officials have explored occupational health hazards in the cannabis workplace. Good safety and health practices are essential to any respectable industry moving forward in the professional world.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) recently issued a report that outlines the hazards associated with cannabis cultivation and production. The report is nearly 80 pages long and addresses health hazards such as allergens, molds, pesticides, gases and flammable materials.
Injuries can cost a company a fortune in insurance fees and rates. Reporting even the slightest injuries to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), which was established by congress in 1970, creates a short-term headache, but prevents long-term disasters. Even cannabis businesses must adhere to regulations that have been in place for decades. Budtenders are at risk of spreading allergens because they work around jars of raw flower. Working around flammable liquids, combustible agents and machinery creates a new set of problems that can arise. Oil extraction explosions are one of the top reasons that the cannabis industry desperately needs workplace standards. Creating a safe workplace in the cannabis industry means going beyond slips and falls associated with normal work hazards.
“It doesn’t create any new regulations for occupational health safety; it is just an awareness of what programs are out there, in terms of federal legislations, and it brings together some of the agricultural/pesticide use.”
The CDPHE is offering a set of best workplace practices called “Guide to Worker Safety and Health in the Marijuana Industry.” The guide was developed by a committee of over 40 members called the Colorado Marijuana Occupational Health and Safety Work Group. Part I looks at establishing a safety and health program. Part II is a guide to worker safety and health. Section I of the guide explores biological, chemical and physical hazards. Section II of the guide explores a hazard communication plan, a hearing conservation plan, a personal protective equipment assessment, a respiratory protection plan and the lockout/tagout system that many of us are already familiar with.
Roberta Smith is Occupational Health Program Manager at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Smith explained that this guide was not created due to an increase of injuries in the cannabis industry; instead it was created to help anyone who may need more information on creating an effective program to ensure workplace health and safety. “This document that we put together doesn’t introduce anything new,” Smith explained to CULTURE. “It doesn’t create any new regulations for occupational health safety; it is just an awareness of what programs are out there, in terms of federal legislations, and it brings together some of the agricultural/pesticide use. We highlight those regulations because there are some worker protection standards that fall under that regulation.”
Smith continued to explain that not everyone in the cannabis industry will need to refer to the rules, because many professionals in the cannabis industry are already working in accordance with the OSHA. However, the new report will serve as a comprehensive guide on how to create a safety and health program for anyone who may be new to the cannabis industry.
The guide is not meant to bypass existing regulations from OSHA, but it will create a program that is meant to benefit worker safety and health. The CDPHE’s main concern is providing a guide that creates the best possible workplace safety standards that are designed specifically for the industry.