US safety watchdog urges zero tolerance policy

An American safety organisation is urging employers to restrict workers’ cannabis use as more and more states decriminalise the drug.

The National Safety Council – a non-profit that aims to prevent accidental deaths at work and in homes – is calling on employers to restrict cannabis use for staff in safety sensitive positions – regardless of whether cannabis consumption is allowed by their state.

Lorraine M Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said: “Research clearly shows that cannabis impacts a person’s psychomotor skills and cognitive ability.

“In order to protect our employees and those around them, we need to acknowledge the impairing effects of cannabis.

“We urge employers to implement policies stating no amount of cannabis consumption is acceptable for those who work in safety sensitive positions.”

More and more US states are legialising cannabis

According to a 2019 NSC survey employers expressed the following views about cannabis:

  • 81% were concerned about the drug having a negative impact on their workforce
  • 71% indicated their organisation’s written policies cover employee use of illicit cannabis, while only 54% said their policies cover employee use of legal or prescribed cannabis
  • 24% indicated they would dismiss an employee found to be misusing legal cannabis, such as being under the influence while on the job, while only 7% said they would relocate the employee to a position of lesser responsibility

The NSC states that studies have shown that those under the influence of cannabis can experience impaired body movement, altered senses, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, impaired memory, an altered sense of time, changes in mood, and – when taken in high doses – hallucinations and delusions.

Physical effects can include difficulty breathing and increased heart rate.

NSC says employees using medical cannabis should be moved to to non-safety sensitive jobs.