Safety in the workplace isn’t a new concept. In fact, it has been and will continue to be a focus of reputable organizations for a long time. However, new horizons are dawning in Canada and on that horizon is a looming unknown in Canadian safety culture: cannabis legalization.
The unknown territory of cannabis is something that Calgary-based company Cannabis Learning Series (CLS) is attempting to tackle head on.
“We’re a safety company first with a focus on addressing issues stemming from impairment, and particularly that of cannabis impairment,” says Jeff Bradshaw, president and CEO of CLS. “Many companies have admitted they’re unprepared to deal with cannabis legalization. This is a huge problem. Our goal is to help them educate, inform, and train their employees so that workplaces can remain safe and healthy across Canada.”
Recent data shows that about one in 10 Canadians would consider themselves to be a cannabis user in the past year. Based on those numbers, it is likely that there will be very few workplaces unaffected by cannabis legalization.
Unlike alcohol and other substances, cannabis comes with its own unique impacts on the workplace. For instance, settling the issue of testing and how impairment is determined remains ambiguous. The active ingredient in cannabis known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) breaks down in the body into molecules called metabolites. These metabolites can be stored in body fat, and can cause positive test results for up to 45 days since the last use. This means a positive drug test may not indicate impairment.
Employers also have the duty to accommodate employees for disabilities and their treatments, which can include medicinal cannabis use – yet another added complication to drug and alcohol policy development. These considerations only scratch the surface of what employers need to acknowledge in updating their drug and alcohol policies.
However, the response from businesses is still split. Leaders are either looking for a solution to proactively deal with the potential issues or choosing to continue business as normal and hope for the best. The reality is, only one thing is certain – there is a huge potential for human resource management issues and lawsuits if changes to the Cannabis Act are ignored completely.
CLS aims to provide a simple, turn-key solution for business leaders across Canada to address the potential for incidents stemming from cannabis and impairment. “We’ve combined the expertise and knowledge of advisors from the health and safety, legal, and medical world along with our own learning and communications development experience to create a complete suite of learning content,” says Eric Atkinson, the lead instructional designer behind the series. “We then coupled that with a pre-packaged communications campaign built around the FIT FOR DUTY concept to further empower employees to make safe decisions a part of their everyday work life. The goal is to provide employers with easy-to-implement content and help them communicate and educate at every level of their organization to ensure a safety culture is maintained, regardless of upcoming changes in the Cannabis Act.”
Although being proactive is not always top of mind, making preventative measures are the best way to promote a healthy working environment. CLS has done all the heavy lifting to encourage organizations to take action now, providing the easiest and most cost-effective solution on the market.