Workplace safety is a topic of growing concern among those in the cannabis industry amid numerous reports of hash oil manufacturing site explosions because of unregulated use of butane gas. But Los Angeles marijuana industry attorneys know that isn’t the only safety concern facing growers, manufacturers and retailers, and it places cannabis companies in a vulnerable position of liability. There are several forms of workers’ compensation available to marijuana businesses in California, and The Cannabis Law Firm can help you determine the best one for your business plan.
Last year, the California Insurance Commissioner announced a new marijuana industry workers’ compensation program through Atlas General Insurance Services tailored specifically to the cannabis business. The program accommodates an array of risks involved in numerous aspects of work in the cannabis industry – from growing and extracting to lab work and medicinal manufacturers to food and beverage products makers, packaging, warehousing and distribution, transportation and retail work.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, there are a laundry list of potential risks for employees and contractors in the cannabis market. Workers at risk include:
- Extraction technicians
- Edible producers
- Laboratory technicians
- Cultivation owner/operator
- Administrative workers
- Transportation workers
- Maintenance workers
Among the cannabis workplace hazards these workers face:
- Exposure to mold, sensitizers, allergens, CO2, pesticides/fungus
- Poor workplace ergonomics
- Slippery walking/working surfaces
- Lighting hazards
- Chemical exposures
- Workplace violence
- Occupational injuries (including burns, cuts, electrical hazards, elevated heights/falls)
- Exposure to extreme noise levels
- Dangerous/heavy equipment
Cannabis industry employees working directly with the plant can face a range of biological hazards. These can include bacteria and fungi known to adversely affect health in humans, such as congestion, throat irritation and contact irritant dermatitis. Using proper moisture and dampness control, workplace engineering and supplying the right kinds of personal protective equipment can go a long way toward reducing workplace exposure to cannabis industry hazards.
Then there are physical hazards. These are things like compressed gases (prone to explosion or fire) and sharp objects (putting workers at risk for cuts and infections). They can also include hazardous walking surfaces (leading to slips trips and falls) to lighting, confined spaces and electricity hazards. As our Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys have seen, companies that take these dangers seriously and implement proper engineering controls, administrative controls, supervision and personal protective equipment make these type of injuries far less likely.
Companies should have written first aid plans, readily available medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of occupational health and they should ensure employees have clear instructions on how to report work-related injuries and how and where to seek emergency medical attention. Workplace first aid kits should be supplied that meet federal ANSI standards.
Marijuana businesses should also recognize the potential for workplace violence in the industry – particularly in the retail sector – is an issue requiring time and attention. Security in the marijuana industry is regulated the Bureau of Cannabis Control. Other safety rights and issues are covered by the California Code of Regulations and by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
If you are a new marijuana business in Southern California, speaking with an experienced marijuana business attorney in Los Angeles can help ensure you are abiding all state workers’ compensation rules and keeping your employees safe with use of business plans that incorporate best practices.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
New workers’ comp. program announced for cannabis industry in Calif., Sept. 11, 2018, By Denny Jacob, Property Casualty 360
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California Cannabis Bureau Cracks Down on Unlicensed Pot Shops, Feb. 10, 2019, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog