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Will legalized cannabis use affect workplace impairment standards?

With the fresh legalization of cannabis for recreational use, employers and employees in British Columbia might have concerns about how cannabis use will affect work environments. WorkSafeBC has launched an educational awareness campaign dealing with cannabis impairment and potential workplace accident incidents. Some of the radio advertisements broadcast in Vancouver will be in Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi to capture a wide range of audiences.

A spokesperson for WorkSafeBC says workplace impairment is an existing issue, and the campaign aims to remind employers and employees that managing it is a shared responsibility that requires cooperation. He says that the policy of fit-to-work will remain unchanged, regardless of whether the impairment is by alcohol or cannabis. Employers are urged to make sure the company’s impairment policy is clearly communicated to all workers.

As occupational health and safety regulations currently stand, employers can prevent employees from working if impaired by any substance, because it may endanger others or threaten employees’ own safety. Workers may be barred from remaining at the workplace under such circumstances. However, workers also have the responsibility to inform their supervisors if they are impaired by any substance.

While it might all seem clear and straightforward, disputes will likely arise. Fortunately, advice, guidance and support can be obtained from a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with British Columbia employment law issues. A lawyer can assist employers with updating policies to include cannabis impairment rules. In the event of cannabis-related disputes, legal counsel can advocate for employers or assist employees who believe they are falsely accused of impairment in fighting for their rights.

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