973-597-0750 [email protected]
Cannabis Cultivator's Workplace Safety

A Complete Guide to Cannabis Cultivator’s Workplace Safety

Twenty-four states have legalized recreational cannabis use. However, with the rise of the legal cannabis industry came several workplace injuries. The first reported cannabis workplace death occurred in 2022 at Trulieve’s Holyoke, Massachusetts, licensed cannabis facility.

Can we expect injuries and deaths to grow as more states legalize cannabis?

Remember that the legal cannabis industry is relatively new, and accidents leading to death have been few. However, you may not be aware of many other risks to workers’ health.

Are you a cannabis cultivator? If so, you must learn the cannabis workplace safety protocols established by the NCRMA, WPS, EPA and OSHA to avoid accidents, citations, and other potential lawsuits.

As cannabis cultivators, we are here to make your workplace safer and compliant with federal and state mandates. We want your business to thrive, eliminating possible lawsuits and citations while optimizing the safety of your workplace.

Here we offer you a valuable cannabis cultivator’s workplace safety guide to documentation, reporting, minimizing fall risks, repetitive body motions, eliminating cannabis air dust exposure, understanding chemicals, their risks and more.

OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

OSHA’s injury and illness, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements ensure workplace safety and transparency. These regulations, established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), mandate that certain employers maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses. These requirements provide a comprehensive understanding of workplace hazards, track accident trends, and devise effective preventive measures.

Covered employers must maintain records of incidents using OSHA Form 300, detailing the nature of the injury or illness, its cause, and the treatment administered. Additionally, severe incidents and fatalities must be reported to OSHA within a specific timeframe.

Business management must maintain any injury records for at least five years. They must also post summaries of the previous year’s injuries each February through April. If former or current employees request it, owners or managers must provide records to these employees.

In addition, the National Cannabis Risk Management Association (NCRMA) states that workplaces must have a hazard communication plan which outlines an emergency plan in the case of chemical spills, fire, or other reasons for evacuation. Also, the proper personal protection equipment (PPE) must be on-site with all safety equipment, and staff must be trained to use it properly.

Beyond these requirements, cannabis cultivator’s must have a Worker Protection Standard (WPS), an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation enforced by the state agriculture department. This is a requirement for workplaces where pesticides or plants where pesticides are applied are in use. Workers must be trained in the associated risks of use.

Accident Investigation

Accident investigation is a systematic and thorough process aimed at uncovering the root causes, contributing factors, and circumstances surrounding workplace incidents, with the primary goal of preventing future occurrences. This process involves collecting and analyzing information from various sources, such as witness accounts, physical evidence, and relevant documentation.

By examining these factors, investigators can identify deficiencies in safety procedures, equipment, training, or organizational practices that may have led to the incident.

A comprehensive accident investigation not only aids in understanding what went wrong but also informs the development of targeted corrective actions and preventative measures. This proactive approach enhances workplace safety by addressing underlying issues, promoting a culture of continuous improvement, and reducing the likelihood of similar incidents in the future.

Slips, Trips, and Fall Risks

In the cannabis cultivator’s workplace environment, slip, trip, and fall risks present many challenges due to the nature of the industry. With facilities that often involve cultivation and processing areas, there’s a heightened potential for hazards.

Moisture from irrigation systems, spilled water, or damp surfaces in cultivation zones can increase slip risks, especially when combined with plant debris. Tripping hazards can arise from uneven flooring, exposed cables used for lighting systems, ladders or equipment left in walkways. 

Moreover, the fast-paced nature of some cannabis operations might lead to rushed movements or inadequate training, further exacerbating the risk. Proper safety measures are essential, including regular maintenance of floors, prompt cleanup of spills, and clear signage for potential hazards.

Adequate employee training and awareness programs can play a pivotal role in preventing slip, trip, and fall incidents, fostering a safer and more productive cannabis workplace environment.

Ergonomic Assessments on Employees

Cannabis Cultivator's Workplace Safety

Like any industry, workers subject themselves to particular working conditions and body positioning. The cannabis industry is no different; for example, repetitive motions such as standing or sitting in one position for too long. Unfortunately, these repetitive motions can cause injury while decreasing work engagement and productivity.

In the cannabis industry, the most common repetitive motion is trimming, manicuring a bud to take the leaves off. Many small muscle groups are affected as the forearms are continuously used, which can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Therefore, an ergonomic program must be in place for workers to have minimal risk of minor injuries becoming chronic.

Phase Associates specializes in thorough ergonomic assessments for employees, offering solutions to enhance workplace comfort and productivity. Through written programs and expert training, Phase Associates prioritizes the well-being of employees by identifying and mitigating ergonomic risks. Our company’s assessments encompass various aspects of the work environment, including workstation design, equipment ergonomics, and task procedures.

After a thorough assessment, Phase Associates helps organizations implement effective ergonomic adjustments that minimize the risk of repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal disorders by identifying potential strain or discomfort factors. The approach is complemented by well-structured written programs that guide companies in maintaining ergonomic standards over time.

While Phase Associates’ training initiatives empower employees with the knowledge and techniques to adopt proper ergonomic practices, it fosters a workplace culture of health, safety, engagement, and productivity.

Air Monitoring for Dust Exposure: Ventilation Assessments and Respirator Usage

In the dynamic landscape of the up-and-coming cannabis industry, addressing concerns related to dust exposure is critical. The dust may not affect individuals initially, but it can build into a severe, long-lasting problem.

Cannabis is an allergen. Individuals exposed can develop skin irritation, and hives, leading to throat itchiness and irritation and difficulty breathing with the worst case, full-on anaphylaxis.

Workers must be aware of the possible allergic reactions from prolonged dust exposure. Knowing the symptoms and steps to take if experiencing them is essential.

So, what do you, as a cannabis cultivator, do now?

Air Monitoring

Air monitoring from a professional environmental company such as Phase Associates must be considered.

To begin exposure to dust requires deploying specialized equipment to measure airborne particulate levels on individual employees and within designated workspaces. As exposure levels are accurately assessed, the proper control methods can be implemented.

Ventilation Assessments

Ventilation Assessments are also pivotal; evaluating the effectiveness of ventilation systems ensures proper airflow and minimizes the accumulation of airborne contaminants. Also, adequate respirator usage becomes essential when exposure levels cannot be adequately controlled.

Respirator Fit Training

Training employees on proper respirator selection, fitting, and usage is crucial to safeguarding their health. As the cannabis industry continues to flourish, adopting comprehensive strategies for managing dust exposure through air monitoring, ventilation assessments, and respiratory protection exemplifies a commitment to employee well-being and regulatory compliance.

Chemical Inventory Review, Hazardous Communication, Training and Written Programs

In most workplaces in the cannabis industry, chemicals are used; therefore, it is crucial for them to be stored appropriately and to know how to handle them correctly.

Phase Associates offers a comprehensive suite of services to enhance chemical safety in the cannabis cultivator’s workplace.

Our chemical inventory review process ensures accurate and up-to-date records of all on-site chemicals, facilitating a chemical hygiene plan with effective hazard identification and management. This approach lays the foundation for hazardous communications training and written programs.

Recognizing the importance of clear communication about chemical risks, Phase Associates provides thorough training to employees, enabling them to safely understand and handle hazardous substances. Our Phase Associates written programs guide companies in implementing consistent and compliant communication strategies, including proper labeling, safety data sheet (SDS) management, and emergency response protocols.

By combining accurate chemical inventory data with expert training and well-structured programs, Phase Associates empowers cannabis industry businesses to manage chemical hazards proactively, fostering a culture of safety and compliance that prioritizes the well-being of employees and the environment.

Contact Phase Associates for Cannabis Cultivator’s Workplace Safety Training and Programs

Are you a cannabis cultivator? If so, we are here for you.

At Phase Associates, we are an industry leader in environmental health and safety (EHS). Our EHS specialists will provide your cannabis business with the training you and your entire staff need to remain safe and follow all the protocols established by OSHA, NCRMA, WPS, and EPA.

Contact Phase Associates today to learn more about our cannabis cultivator’s workplace safety training and programs.

Our cannabis cultivator’s workplace safety training and programs are offered to the regions of New Jersey, New York (NYC, Albany), Delaware, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland (Baltimore, Washington DC), Massachusetts (Boston), New Hampshire (Portsmouth), Rhode Island (Providence), Pennsylvania, and Virginia (Arlington, Alexandria).