health & safety
TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND RELAX
By Lorenzo Lisi
The federal Cannabis Act (the Act) and its regulations
will come into force on Oct. 17, 2018. The legislation
imposes strict restrictions on promotional and adver-tising
activities relating to cannabis in pursuit of a key
policy goal of the government: to avoid exposure of cannabis to
young people. This priority is clear throughout the Act – from
production to packaging to final sale – and includes advertising
and promotional activities.
However, there are few official guidelines on how employers can
appropriately deal with cannabis use (both medicinally and recre-ationally)
and how it impacts their risk profile when it comes to
impairment at work and employees in safety-sensitive positions.
The good news is that employers are already armed with many
of the tools they need to address the issue. The better news is that
the rules are not that much different than those already in place for
use of illegal substances (remember, cannabis was once illegal) and
alcohol. A quick review makes sense.
CANNABIS AT WORK
When it comes to recreational use, workers do not have the right
to be impaired at work or to consume marijuana at work. A simple
analogy: alcohol is legal, but employees cannot show up to work
intoxicated or drink while on the job.
If the worksite is safety-sensitive and intoxication poses a real
and pressing concern to worker safety, not only can an employer
implement a policy to prohibit marijuana consumption (or con-sumption
of any substance which causes impairment) on the job,
but there should already be one in place in light of the employers’
obligation to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health
and safety of its workers under occupational health and safety leg-islation.
On that point, a recent decision in Alberta (Canadian
Energy Workers’ Association v. ATCO Electric) held that the deci-sion
to drug test employees after a low speed collision at a remote
worksite was reasonable, deeming that the requirement continues
to be justified where: 1) The incident is significant or is a near
wollertz / 123RF Stock Photo
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ OCTOBER 2018 ❚ 41