BRITISH COLUMBIA - As marijuana became legal in Canada October 17, WorkSafeBC, an agency dedicated to preventing workplace death and injury in British Columbia, aims to spread awareness about impairment in the workplace.
“Impairment in the workplace isn’t a new issue in B.C., but it’s become top of mind as cannabis becomes legal for recreational use,” said Tom Brocklehurst, director of prevention practices and quality for WorkSafeBC. “We’re reaching out to employers and workers to remind them that they share responsibility for managing impairment in the workplace.”


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The campaign will teach employers and employees about current occupational health and safety regulations. Currently, those regulations require employers to:

  • Not allow a worker who is impaired for any reason — alcohol, drugs (including cannabis), or any other substance — to perform work activities that could endanger the worker or anyone else. 
  • Not allow a worker to remain at any workplace while the worker’s ability to work safely is impaired by alcohol, drugs, or any other substance. 
  • Make sure that their ability to work safely is not impaired by alcohol, drugs, or other causes. This means showing up fit to work and remaining so throughout the workday. 
  • Inform employees not to work if their impairment may endanger them, or anyone else.
  • Notify their supervisor if their ability to work safely is impaired for any reason.
“The legalization of recreational cannabis provides a good opportunity for employers and workers to be reminded about workplace-safety policies and practices,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour and minister responsible for WorkSafeBC. “Every worker has the right to go home, safe and sound, at the end of their shift.”
Employers should work to develop procedures and policies that address and clarify impairment in the workplace. Make sure employees know what is and what is not acceptable.
“An impairment policy that takes a fit-to-work approach to impairment can help employers meet their workplace-safety obligations,” said Brocklehurst. “It’s also very important that employers clearly communicate their impairment policy to workers.”
WorkSafeBC’s awareness campaign includes online educational materials and radio ads in major markets across the province starting October 22.
WorkSafeBC in an independent provincial statutory agency serving 2.4 million workers and 238,000 employers throughout British Columbia.

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