Lately, there has been an increased use of marijuana due to its therapeutic potential. More than 30 states and territories now use the plant for medical and recreational purposes. The other 16 states have legalized cannabidiol (CBDs) usage in its different forms.
Nonetheless, every state has developed its own workplace safety and health programs to safeguard workers in this developing industry.
As the marijuana industry grows increasingly, the number of workers in it continues to grow also. With this development, it’s important to ask yourself, “Are the health hazards and other safety risks well assessed?” This question should form a basis for providing safety measures to your workers.
Measures like the use of cannabis growing PPE (personal protective equipment) require thorough consideration. We will address the cannabis workers protection issue by analyzing the hazards involved. Then, we’ll look at protective measures against such hazards.
Marijuana producers, the local and government entities alike embrace the need for superior health and safety programs that protect workers. This endeavor should provide guidelines for ensuring safety and risk control that would help address the various hazards involved. Such hazards include:
- Risks to the respiratory system, the skin and the eyes due to exposure to 8-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which comes from handling plant buds
- Ultraviolet (UV) exposure coming from the lamps used for the flowering cycles and vegetative states in the indoor facilities
- The risks of scrapes, cuts, and scratches possible from harvesting the buds, flowers and other parts of the cannabis plant
- Exposure to fertilizers and pesticides used for some breeds of plants
- Exposure to excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) used in greenhouses to optimize the growing environment
- Blisters from repetitive usage of shears and gardening equipment while harvesting
- The danger of inhaling Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emitted by CO2 producing devices
- Exposure to heat-stress while inside greenhouses
- The risks of shocks and burns resulting from the incorrect wiring of the LED grow lamps
- Mold exposure during indoor growing operations, highly resultant from inadequate ventilation
There’s an increased interest for different cannabinoids, especially CBD, as well as Sativa and Indica subspecies. The products like CBD oil, tinctures and edibles are as well in high demand.
Therefore, it’s this demand that has triggered the production growing. While the industry engages more workers, the above-highlighted hazards become more important.
PPE considerations for cannabis employees
Various PPE and programs do exist to safeguard the workers in the different sectors of the marijuana industry.
If we start with inhalation-related risks, there exist different kinds of respirators. They protect against short and long exposure to plants, pesticides, and molds. Nevertheless, you should reference your jurisdiction’s clean air regulations and governing agencies’ rules to ensure compliance in protecting your workers.
You can also protect your workers from UV grow lamps, the sun, pesticides, and other chemicals by having safety eyewear or sun wear.
Other protective equipment like gloves, eye-protection devices, and protective clothing would be also necessary. They protect from contact with the pesticides and plants as well as from injuries while cultivating.
Another measure you should prioritize is having carbon dioxide and monoxide detectors. They should help you detect dangerous levels of these gases.
You need to take a proactive approach to ensure a protective environment for your workers. While protecting them from injury, you also stimulate productivity.