Three Years Legal: Five Tips on Managing Workplace Impairment and Fatigue

Three years ago, the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) passed the House of Commons and Senate, effectively making Canada the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis nationwide, after Uruguay. Legalization came with many new challenges that employers and safety professionals must maneuver to ensure the safety and well-being of all workers.

While alcohol has been present in our culture for much longer, an estimated 13% (about 514,000) of Canadian workers who are current cannabis users, consumed cannabis before or during work. Furthermore, the multiple methods of cannabis ingestion can prolong the impairment window, therefore posing a risk during when “off the job”.

Recently, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has released a new standard CSA Z1008:21, Management of impairment in the workplace. This new standard provides guidance on how to manage the negative impacts stemming from impairment in the workplace.

Alongside the new CSA standard, we have compiled five tips on managing workplace impairment and fatigue:

  1. Assess your policy – In order to manage workplace fatigue and impairment, organizations must first audit and assess its current fitness-for-duty policy. What is the procedure when a worker arrives at work impaired? What are the current gaps in your policy? Understanding your pitfalls and clearing any grey areas should be the first move in your efforts to ensuring alertness on-the-job.
  2. Screen effectively – Being able to identify workers who may be too fatigued or impaired for work may come as a challenge. Many organizations simply use the discretion of a supervisor to see if workers are alert, while other companies find value in fitness-for-duty software, like Aware4Duty. All in all, screening of employees must be effective in order to enact a safe culture.
  3. Be consistent – For a fitness-for-duty program to be successful, it must be enforced in a consistent manner. Sporadic testing and exempting employees will only put their safety at risk and lead to an unsuccessful program. Policies should be all encompassing and workers must all be assessed on the same playing field.
  4. Administer accordingly – Safety managers and professionals should be the champions of fitness-for-duty screening and should be responsible effectively communicating why workers require screening. Employees who understand why they are being screened will have a higher chance of adhering to the program, leading to its success.
  5. Evaluate your program – Fitness-for-duty programs are not perfect. Even without an incident, policies must be updated and evaluated continually to ensure everyone’s safety and productivity. Monthly or quarterly review of your fitness-for-duty program should be conducted, and employee feedback should be considered.

Legalizing cannabis exposed how our current systems have failed at managing worker fitness-for-duty. With more clear guidance from government agencies and regulatory bodies, we can effectively prevent workplace injury and deaths by ensuring workers are alert and fit-for-duty.

 

About Aware360
Aware360 understands people are the most important part of any workplace and provides the tools to keep employees safe throughout their day. Driven by our passion for people, the Aware360 suite of safety solutions leverage personal technology such as smartphones, wearables and satellite devices to keep people safe and productive, while reducing corporate risk. Visit Aware360.com to learn more.

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