By Seema Dhawan, Special to Danatec by Yardstick Training
The legalization of cannabis in Canada has added a new component to managing employees and safety in the workplace. Non-medicinal cannabis was legalized in October of 2018 and organizations are racing to catch up. According to a recent ongoing study by the Institute for Work & Health, there is a critical knowledge gap about the potential impact of legalization on productivity as well as health and safety in the workplace.
“Until now we really have lacked information on the extent of cannabis use,” says Nancy Carnide, part of the research team working on the study. “There is little information on how workers perceive cannabis use especially in regard to the workplace.”
Preliminary findings indicate that over 20 percent of surveyed Canadian workers did not know if their workplace has a cannabis policy in place and 11 percent were unsure if cannabis use was acceptable within two hours of being at work, as reported by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.
“We want to be able to see if workers perceive it as less risky at work and if so, that can influence behaviour.”
Over 20 percent of surveyed Canadian workers did not know if their workplace has a cannabis policy in place and 11 percent were unsure if cannabis use was acceptable within two hours of being at work. -Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada
There is a lot of conversation in the employer community on how these changes will affect safety at work and employee productivity.
One of the easiest ways an organization can prepare for the changes the Canadian workplace is experiencing is to invest a few hours in getting trained. Danatec by Yardstick Training helps employers avoid confusion understanding cannabis legislation, saves them the time developing new cannabis policies and employee education, and perhaps most importantly guides them on how to effectively communicate and manage workplace policies around cannabis use. Those in leadership positions and Human Resources should be trained by safety experts on how to manage cannabis in the workplace.
Employees can also be trained on basic cannabis safety that helps them make safer choices around cannabis use and adhere to cannabis safety guidelines to their role at work. It also guides staff on understanding the differences in medical and recreational marijuana use policies and getting clarity on their rights and responsibilities.
“The importance of having a workplace trained and knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities around the usage of recreational or medical cannabis in the workplace is undeniable,” said Greg Britton, General Manager at Danatec by Yardstick Training. “This takes away the confusion and ambiguity between what an employee and employer believe is expected of them and protects both from potential liability.”
This sentiment is echoed by Carnide, “The benefit of legalization in this particular context has been that it has started conversations between employers and employees about substance abuse, not just cannabis and impairment.”
“We hear anecdotally that workers are using cannabis, but we don’t have a sense of to what extent”, she adds.
Having those conversations helps make things more transparent and hopefully safer in the long run. Improving communication, having workplace policies in place, and training all employees and employers in cannabis safety will help build safer work environments and has become a key component of safety management in Canadian organizations.