Growing, processing, distributing and retailing cannabis products brings potentially serious workplace hazards including biological, chemical and physical hazards that need to be managed and controlled. Hazards that need to be addressed include, but are not limited to:
- Occupational hygiene - noise, solvent exposure in processing, heat stress and particulate, pesticide use.
- Ergonomic considerations - arising from forceful exertions, repetitive and/or prolonged activities, awkward postures when working.
- Working at heights - resulting from the indoor facilities used for growing and production.
- Warehousing - racking and pedestrian safety.
- Machine safety - working with the equipment required to harvest and process cannabis.
There is also the challenge of training new workers, ensuring mandatory awareness and certification training, and getting up to speed on safe workplace practices in a timely fashion.
What the law says
Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that employers take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers. Sections 25, 27 and 28 refer to duties and responsibilities of employers, supervisors and workers.
The OHS Act also requires employers to appoint "competent" people as supervisors. This means the supervisor must be:
- Qualified because of knowledge, training, and experience to organize the work and its performance.
- Familiar with the Act and its regulations
- Knowledgeable about any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace.
The Occupational Health and Safety Awareness Training Regulation mandates basic occupational health and safety awareness training for all workers and supervisors.
Companies in Ontario with 20 or more employees are required to have a joint health and safety committee that complies with the OHSA. This means having at least 2 committee members - 1 worker and 1 management representative - certified in health and safety. For greenhouse operations, JHSC certification training is required if there are more than 50 workers.
Regulations amending the Ontario Fire Code have been made for greenhouses, in particular cannabis growers, relating to flammable and combustible materials and emergency exits.
The Ontario MSD Prevention Guideline is available to help you prevent MSDs in your workplace. Visit msdprevention.com to access the tool at https://www.msdprevention.com/
How WSPS Can Help
We offer health and safety solutions to help you demonstrate due diligence, give your supervisors the knowledge and skills to stay competent, and to address potential risks. Some of the services we can provide include:
- Hazard/risk assessments
- Occupational hygiene consulting to address air quality and exposure to allergens
- Building an MSD prevention program
- Machine safeguarding assessments
- Warehouse assessments and racking inspections
- Classroom and on-site training, as well as e-courses, on specific hazards.
For information and assistance, inquire about WSPS' consulting services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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