Workplace safety leading HR issue as marijuana legalization approaches: HRPA

The majority (71 per cent) of Canadian employers are unprepared for how the legalization of recreational marijuana will affect the workplace, according to a new survey by the Human Resources Professionals Association, Business of Cannabis and the Public Services Health and Safety Association. 

The survey, which polled nearly 700 HRPA members, found that ensuring a safe work environment is the most pressing issue at hand, cited by about 48 per cent of respondents. Employers are also seeking guidance, guidelines or policies in order to best address the legalization of marijuana in their workplace.

Read: Medical marijuana cases highlight need for precise wording in benefits plans

“Employers are simply not yet equipped with the knowledge and the resources they need to ensure that their workplaces are prepared for legalized marijuana,” said Scott Allinson, vice-president of public affairs at the Human Resources Professionals Association, in a press release. “Balancing these legal changes with the imperative to provide a safe workplace for all is a challenging transition — and employers need the right tools for the job.”

As Canada transitions to the legalization of marijuana, it’s important that workplaces focus on creating safe environments and helping employees stay healthy at work, said Kim Slade, director of emerging markets and commercialization at the Public Services Health and Safety Association. “While some workplaces feel they have policies and procedures in place to address health and safety concerns, others are looking for clarity on what legalization means to their workplace health and safety practices, specifically as it relates to safety-sensitive roles.”

And a deeper understanding and training is required as medical and recreational marijuana rates are expected to rise, said Jay Rosenthal, co-founder and president of Business of Cannabis.